YSU can’t keep pace with WVU
By Charles Grove
morgantown, w. va.
It wasn’t just the sun that made the West Virginia fans sweat during Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Youngstown State also was responsible for some of it.
The Penguins did plenty to get the sweat glands going for much of the WVU faithful, but ultimately, the Penguins fell to the Mountaineers, 38-21.
The Penguins (1-1) led 14-7 midway through the second quarter after quarterback Ricky Davis hit Alvin Bailey on a 74-yard touchdown pass. Later, YSU looked to stage a fourth-quarter comeback, but it wasn’t meant to be.
WVU quarterback Skyler Howard (20 of 33, 389 yards, five TDs) and his stable of fast receivers eventually got the best of the Penguins.
“We didn’t play well enough to win the football game,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “I told them going in, ‘You have to control us. We have to do what we have to do’ and we didn’t always do that.”
Davis paced the YSU offense on 11-of-26 passing for 189 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also rushed for 62 yards before an undisclosed injury put Trent Hosick into the game attempting to a late rally.
After YSU took the second quarter, the Mountaineers (2-0) went on a 24-0 run that looked to erase all doubt until Hosick’s 15-yard TD run to make it 31-21 with 8:44 to play.
The YSU defense appeared to force a three-and-out after David Rivers swatted a pass away, but pass interference was called and that flag, along with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Pelini, allowed the drive to continue.
“It looked to me like that was as good a play as you can make,” Pelini said referring to the pass interference. “I don’t even think he touched him.
“And then they didn’t even give me an explanation. [All they said was] pass interference.
While the YSU defense gave up 624 yards, West Virginia was kept largely in check until its wide receivers went deep on fly routes, and that’s when the YSU secondary was exposed.
Shelton Gibson ran right past the YSU secondary on multiple occasions, hauling in six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Ka’Raun White had a 53-yard touchdown catch.
“They saw the safeties were biting on the run pretty heavy so they ran play action pass and that’s what was killing us really,” safety LeRoy Alexander said. “[Blame falls on] both [the safeties and cornerbacks].
“We’ve got to see run pass fakes quicker so that we can get back and help the corners that are usually back on island press. We’ll be able to fix that easily.”
Davis credited the adjustments the WVU coaching staff made at halftime to limiting YSU’s offensive attack to 68 yards in the third quarter when the Penguins were outscored 17-0.
“There were a lot of plays that were really successful for us in the first half and we came out [in the second half] and we were checking out of almost everything,” Davis said. “I was looking to the sideline every play it felt like.”
Pelini felt his offense executed better in the second half, but drops from open receivers killed momentum and chances.
“We dropped a bunch of balls,” Pelini said. “We executed a little bit better in the second half.
“We had some things available to us but you have to execute. If you don’t, you sputter on some drives and that’s what it comes down to.”