Sunday, September 10, 2017
RELATED: Safety dance: Penguins have depth
By Brian Dzenis
The biggest win for Youngstown State’s football team on Saturday may have come on the x-ray table.
On the field, the Penguins squished Robert Morris for a 30-0 victory, but Hunter Wells’ right shoulder loomed over the proceedings.
The starting quarterback exited the game during the team’s first drive because of a shoulder injury. He spent the rest of the game on the sideline out of uniform in a sling, but should be OK going forward, head coach Bo Pelini said.
“He’ll be all right. It was a slight shoulder separation,” Pelini said. “The x-rays were negative, so Hunter will be fine.”
Nathan Mays stepped in and was solid. The sophomore QB was 13 for 17 for 149 yards and his first career touchdown pass — a 5-yard toss to Kevin Rader in the third quarter. Rader made a highlight-reel leaping grab.
“It’s not what we were expecting with how I was looking at it,” Rader said. “I remembered as I was running that route [tight ends coach Joe Ganz] telling me if he doesn’t move and sets his feet, take it outside and he’ll back-shoulder me. That’s exactly what happened.”
Mays also ran for 66 yards and a touchdown. The backup quarterback could stand to learn to slide and he knows it.
“[The coaches] said something to me after the game. They know from last year that I don’t really like to slide and I probably need to learn, but I like to get every yard that I can. That’s kind of my thing,” Mays said. “They’re probably going to get on me next week in practice.”
Robert Morris’ offense spent the afternoon scuffling against YSU (1-1_. The Colonials managed just 147 total yards of offense. The closest they got to scoring were two missed field goal attempts by Nick Bisceglia. Colonials quarterback Jimmy Walker was sacked seven times — Justus Reed and Wesley Thompson each had two — and the Penguins had six tackles for a loss.
A particularly negative run for the Colonials came at the start of the third quarter. Thanks to two holding penalties, two sacks and a personal foul call, RMU (1-1) found itself in a fourth-and-50.
“We have a lot of work to do, but you take it. We shut them out,” Pelini said.
Where Pelini would like to see some improvement is with the red zone offense. The Penguins had three trips inside the 20-yard line that ended with three Zak Kennedy field goals. It’s points on the board, but Pelini wanted more.
“We also had two bad snaps where the ball is on the ground. Those are things that in a different game will get you beat and that’s the way I look at it,” Pelini said. “We have higher standards in how we play. We were just a little bit sloppy at times.
“I’ll take it and I told the players to enjoy it tonight, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Tevin McCaster and Christian Turner tied for the leaders in rushing yards with 89 each, with McCaster getting a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Harrison Dreher was the top rusher for the Colonials with 84 yards. Walker was 6 for 16 for 83 yards.
The win was Pelini’s first shutout as the Penguins’ head coach.
“Hopefully, there’s more to come,” he said.