Published November 19, 2011
* Refresh often as I will be updating throughout the game.
1. The loss obviously ends YSU's playoff hopes. The Penguins finish at 6-5 and you need seven wins to get in.
2. Had YSU won, there was a 99.9 percent chance that the Penguins would have been in the playoffs, since losses by Illinois State (to UNI) and Indiana State (to Southern Illinois) would have secured the third-place spot in the conference for YSU. Instead, the Penguins finish in a two-way tie with Indiana State for fourth.
3. The six wins did double last year's win total, so that's something to be positive about. Another thing is the fact that YSU will essentially bring back everyone on the team, except for a couple defensive linemen. The future is bright, even if the present doesn't feel so great.
4. There's no positive spin to put on today's game, though. YSU blew a 17-point halftime lead at home to a team that entered the game with a 1-9 record. The defense gave up 28 points in the second half and the special teams played poorly throughout.
5. Eric Wolford will face the most intense criticism of his two-year stint at YSU after this loss but anyone calling for him to be fired is nuts. There's a strong foundation there with plenty of talented underclassmen coming up. This is a program moving in the right direction. It's up to him, his coaching staff and his players to build on this season because it's going to be playoffs-or-bust next year.
Kurt Hess hits TE Will Shaw for a 30-yard pass to start the fourth quarter -- Shaw is having the game of his life right now -- and YSU gets a first down at the MSU 31.
Meanwhile, UNI and Illinois State each scored a TD in their first possessions of overtime. Remember: YSU needs UNI to win that game or things get a lot trickier, playoff-wise.
YSU's offense finally comes alive, with Kurt Hess buying some time to find Kevin Watts for a 5-yard TD pass with 9:28 left. It was the fifth TD pass of the game for Hess, who breaks the school's single-game record. He's also broke the single-season record for TD passes with 26 (so far).
YSU leads 34-24.
Scoring update: Southern Illinois leads Indiana State 21-0 at halftime, which is very good news for YSU. If Illinois State and Indiana State both lose and YSU wins, it's pretty much 100 percent that the Penguins are headed to the postseason.
MSU drives to the YSU 37, where it's faced with a fourth-and-7. Meanwhile, UNI just kicked the game-winning field goal in OT to beat Illinois State. That's the domino YSU needed to fall.
The Bears pick up the first down at the YSU 24. Two plays and five yards later, MSU picks up a first down on pass interference on Jimmy May Jr. That sets up a first down at the YSU 4. Two plays later, Chris Douglas scores on a 1-yard run, making it 34-31 with 6:28 left.
YSU's defense has been awful in the second half.
The Penguins will take over at the 31 with 6:28 left. Wolford has spent a lot of time in the last two weeks about closing out games on offense. Here's their chance.
YSU picks up a couple big first downs before the drive stalls at the MSU 42. On third and 5, Hess tried to hit Jamaine Cook, who was wide open on the left sideline coming out of the backfield. But Cook couldn't bring it in, forcing the punt.
Liste gets off a nice kick but MSU returns it to the 36. The Bears have the ball with 2:04 left and one timeout. Do or die time for the Penguins.
Two quick passes to Jermaine Saffold (they're picking on that matchup against Jimmy May Jr.) gets the ball to the YSU 37, setting up a second-and-inches. YSU stuffs two inside runs, bringing up fourth down. Trevor Wooden then keeps it himself, picking up 5 yards. There's 35 seconds left.
After an incomplete pass (close call on a near-catch over the middle), Wooden hits Robert Fields for a 30 yard pass to the 2. MSU spikes it with 15 seconds left. Holy smokes.
And YSU may have just lost it. Wooden hits Cadarrius Dotson deep in the right corner, who got a step on Jeremey Edwards. MSU takes a 38-34 lead with 10 seconds to go.
YSU's fans are headed for the exits and you can hear a pin drop up in the press box.
Josh Lee downs the kickoff return at the 27. Kurt Hess hits Christian Bryan for 18 yards to the YSU 45 with 3 seconds left. The desperation pass falls incomplete at the MSU 20. That's the game.
MSU gets the ball to start the second half and returns the kickoff to the 46.
The Bears gain 9 yards in three plays and go for it on fourth down because, hey, why not? QB Trevor Wooden then bootlegs it over the right side and cruises to the 45-yard TD.
YSU goes nowhere on its drive and is forced to punt.
Scoring update: UNI just made a last-second field goal to force OT.
MSU again drives straight down the field, with Wooden scoring on a 3-yard TD run up the middle. Maybe the Penguins are watching the UNI-ISU game, too.
Suddenly, a game that seemed like a foregone conclusion for YSU has become a three-point "Uh-oh" kind of game.
It's YSU 27-24 with 5:47 left in the third quarter and the Penguins need someone to provide a spark.
The Penguins pick up one first down but a third-down drop by Jamaine Cook forces another punt. MSU will take over at its own 18 with 3:45 left. After one first down the Bears punt (but not before YSU linebackers coach Frank Buffano picked up a wooden folding chair and hurled it into a press box wall).
YSU picks up a big third-and-9 at the end of the third quarter and will have the ball at its own 39 as the fourth quarter begins.
Penguins lead 27-24.
Halftime thoughts were canceled today on account of everyone watching the Illinois State-UNI game on a laptop in the back of the press box. ISU leads 13-10 with three minutes left.
YSU gets a sack on second down and an incomplete pass on third down, forcing the Bears to kick a 30-yard field, making it 14-10 Penguins with 14:10 left in the second quarter.
YSU goes nowhere on its first drive on the quarter, losing 10 yards in three plays.
MSU will take over at its own 38 with 11:50 left. LB Davion Rogers is back in, so it looks like the coaches decided to bench him for a quarter.
The Bears looked to be driving for the go-ahead score but safety Jeremey Edwards jarred the ball lose on a run by MSU RB Vernon Scott and Scott Sentner picked it up at the YSU 5, returning it to the 27. Big break for the Penguins.
The drive stalls at the YSU 42 when Andre Barboza drops a pass over the middle. It was a difficult catch but Barboza should have had it.
It's 14-10 YSU with 7:12 left.
After a booming punt that traveled 60 yards in the air (and landed in the end zone), Missouri State gained 8 yards in three plays and punts it back to YSU, which will take over at its own 46 with 6:14 left.
On first down at the MSU 18, Christian Bryan beat double coverage on an inside slant, where Kurt Hess found him for his third TD of the game. David Brown missed the extra point and it's 20-10 with 3:03 left.
Here's the drive: Six plays, 54 yards, 3:11.
MVFC scoring update: Northern Iowa just took a 10-6 lead over Illinois State late in the third quarter. UNI was trailing 6-0 at halftime. Good news for YSU fans.
After getting sacked with less than a minute left near its own 30, MSU opts call timeout and tries to go for the score. He immediately gets punished for it as YSU safety Jeremey Edwards picks off the pass and returns it to the 27. Hess then hits Jelani Berassa for a 15-yard gain. After Kintrell Disher dropped a catchable fade in the left corner, Hess found Berassa for a 12-yard TD pass with 12 seconds left.
That's four TD passes for Hess in the first half, tying the school record. David Brown tacked on the extra point, making it 27-10. That's how the first half will end.
YSU gets the ball first and methodically drives down the field, driving 80 yards in 11 plays over 6:29. Kurt Hess hit Will Shaw for a quick hitter 10-yard TD pass with 8:31 left to make it 7-0 YSU.
Good start for the Penguins.
After a personal foul on YSU's kickoff, MSU starts at the Penguins' 48 but gains just one yard in 3 plays and is forced to punt.
Quick note: Ali Cheaib is starting at linebacker for Davion Rogers. I know Rogers had an ankle injury earlier in the week but I'm hearing it was a coach's decision. We'll see if he's out for a series or the game.
After the punt, YSU takes over at its own 11. The Penguins pick up one first down, then get stuffed on third and 3 and are forced to punt.
MSU will start at its 39.
Quick score update: Illinois State leads Northern Iowa 6-0 at halftime. That's bad for YSU.
Thanks to a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Daniel Stewart and a nice scramble by MSU QB Trevor Wooden, the Bears drive deep into YSU territory. On third and long at the YSU 16, Wooden hits Cadarrius Dotson on a post play just inside the first pylon on the right sideline to tie it at 7 with 1:43 left in the first quarter.
The drive went 8 plays, 61 yards.
As expected, today's ttendance is a little disappointing. I was predicting about 7,000 ABS (actual butts in the seats) and that looks to be about right.
YSU takes over at its own 20 and picks up two first downs on two plays. Then Kurt Hess hit a WIIIIIIIDE OPEN Will Shaw for a 52-yard TD over the middle. It's 14-7 YSU with 34 seconds left.
The Bears then return the ensuing kickoff to YSU's 10 yard line. Yeesh. The Penguins would have been better off waiting 34 seconds to score that last touchdown because they've had to kick into a pretty stiff wind blowing toward the north end zone. Plus, the kickoff coverage has been bad all year. They might want to just start kicking it out of bounds.
After no gain on a first down run, the clock runs out on the quarter.
It's 14-7 YSU.
1. OK, let's start with the playoffs.
If you're a YSU fan, you want two things to happen today:
- YSU beats Missouri State.
- Northern Iowa beats Indiana State.
If Indiana State loses to Southern Illinois, even better.
If those first two things happen, I think it's almost certain that YSU makes it in. And if all three happen? It's pretty much 100 percent.
2. If YSU loses today, the Penguins are out.
A loss today would leave YSU with six Division I wins -- and you need seven.
(By the way, I think YSU wins by four touchdowns today.)
3. If Illlinois State and Indiana State both win, I think the Penguins are out, because Illinois State would clinch the third spot in the conference, leaving YSU and Indiana State tied for fourth. Since the Sycamores won the head-to-head matchup, YSU would most likely be the odd man out.
4. If YSU gets in, there's a decent chance it will host a first-round playoff game.
If this sounds crazy, remember that the top 12 teams earn a first-round bye under the new 20-team playoff format.
So, the last eight teams make a bid for the game and YSU's facilities and fan following would allow the school to make a very good bid.
5. YSU will find out what happens at 10 a.m. tomorrow on the selection show on ESPNU. As soon as we find out what happens, we'll post details on our website (Vindy.com).
6. I'll leave you with this quote from Wolford when he was at the Lake Club on Thursday.
"Personally, if we take care of business, we won't lose another football game."