YSU celebrates first win in 5 games
By Brian Dzenis
The Youngstown State football team snapped its four-game losing streak in emphatic fashion.
YSU rolled winless Indiana State 66-24 in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday. It was exactly the response Penguins coach Bo Pelini was looking for coming off a 35-0 shutout against Illinois State on Oct. 28.
“Our energy was really good. We weren’t a perfect team, but there was a lot of good things,” Pelini said. “Our kids went out there and had fun and that was good to see.”
Ricky Davis had a career day starting in place of injured quarterbacks Nathan Mays and Hunter Wells. In going just 10 for 12 on completions, he threw for 349 yards and four touchdown passes. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 98 yards and two scores.
“It felt nice to sing the fight song in the lockerroom again after the game,” Davis said. “I felt like we really banded together as a team and played really well. It was nice.”
The Penguins (4-5) scored four touchdowns in the first quarter before Indiana State got on the board. Davis had two scores, wide receiver Alvin Bailey recovered teammate Damoun Patterson’s fumble for a touchdown and Jeremiah Braswell caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Davis.
The Sycamores (0-9) showed some fight in the second quarter, outscoring YSU 17-10. Jared Nunez kicked two field goals and Jaquan Keys punched in a short touchdown run. Indiana State quarterback Cade Sparks entered the game in relief for Isaac Harker and hit Jacq McClendon for a 73-yard touchdown pass that left the home side down by 14 at the half.
“We had a little bit of a lull there. We had a busted coverage. We missed a few tackles and we were just a little sloppy,” Pelini said. “Overall, we played pretty good football.”
Davis and redshirt-freshman Samuel St. Surin teamed up to shut down any notion of the Trees making a comeback. YSU took the ball after halftime and on the Penguins’ first drive, Davis hit St. Surin for a 61-yard touchdown pass. Later that same quarter, Davis went right back to St. Surin for a 64-yard score.
“I thought we had a good gameplan. We kept it pretty simple and didn’t need to do anything to complicated with our offense,” Davis said. “With our line, they just answered completely for the last couple weeks. We knew they’ve been struggling and they answered in a way that I literally can’t believe.
“It was phenomenal to see that and to see the leadership on the offensive line with how they protected me.”
YSU was able to run the ball for 289 yards and Davis was sacked four times — figure closer to what the Penguins had before their four-game skid — in the victory.
“They played the way they were capable of playing,” Pelini said. “They played with a swagger and they played with confidence.”
South Range graduate Joe Alessi saw action at running back in the fourth quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns while rushing for 86 yards.
On defense, Jalyn Powell, Avery Larkin and D.J. Smalls each had one interception.
YSU set a new school record for most points scored in a Missouri Valley Football Conference game. The previous record was 65 points set last year against Missouri State.