Sunday, October 15, 2017
Unbeaten NDSU escapes YSU with FG in OT
By Brian Dzenis
When Youngstown State needed a game-winning drive, the Penguins offense went backward and then Zak Kennedy missed a 39-yard field goal, setting up No. 2 North Dakota State’s 27-24 overtime victory Saturday night.
The Penguins started the extra period with the ball 25 yards from the end zone and mounted a drive similar to the one in last week’s 31-28 loss at South Dakota. It was ineffective, with the Penguins advancing just ball two yards on in the clutch moment.
“We had a guy run through on a blitz. We didn’t execute the way we needed to and they made one more play than we did and we lost by a field goal,” Penguins coach Bo Pelini said. “Obviously, that’s not what we wanted to happen on that drive and it’s too bad.”
NDSU’s Cam Pedersen made the winning kick from 36 yards after Pelini iced him with a timeout. He missed the first kick as officials blew the whistle.
“I don’t think he missed it. I think he knew what would happen and half swung at it,” Pelini said. “In the end, we made the decision to ice the kicker to talk to our guys about how we tried to block it and it wasn’t so much about icing the kicker.”
The defeat marks back-to-back weeks of YSU (3-3, 1-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) losing by a field goal, but Pelini didn’t appear to be nearly as disappointed with his team as he was at the DakotaDome.
“It was a good football game — a hell of a good football game — between two good teams,” Pelini said. “They laid it on the line. We missed some opportunities, they missed some opportunities and in the end, they made one more play than we did.
“I told our guys, ‘Don’t hang your head. It’s a tough game and you played hard.’ ”
Nathan Mays and the Bison’s Easton Stick put on a show. Mays, once again spelling the injured Hunter Wells, rushed for a team-high 81 yards, and passed for 188 and two scores.
“It’s always nice to play in big games. It’s the stage you want yourself on and I feel like I did fairly well,” Mays said. “Obviously, there are things I could have done better. I know the guys have confidence in me, even after we had some three-and-outs. The guys tell me, ‘Do you’re thing.’
“It’s been an exciting two weeks. I just wish we had better games.”
Stick put together an impressive performance, throwing for 113 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 172 and a score. He has won all three of his starts against the Penguins.
“I have a lot of respect for him. He can run it. He can throw it. He’s smart, he makes good decisions,” Pelini said. “He’s an experienced quarterback and a really good one. I love the way he competes his butt off.”
NDSU (6-0, 3-0) started the fourth quarter with a haymaker in Stick’s 80-yard touchdown run right through the middle of the Penguins’ defense to break a 17-17 tie.
YSU didn’t equalize until Tevin McCaster crossed the goal line with 1:23 left to play.
Saturday’s game marked two firsts. It was the Penguins’ first passing touchdown to a wide receiver in Damoun Patterson’s 22-yard catch in the first quarter. That same pass was the first passing touchdown scored against the Bison this season.