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Pelini won’t comment on penalties; former Penguin honored

YOUNGSTOWN — A lot of people at Stambaugh Stadium were probably talking about penalties as they ushered down the exit ramps following Saturday’s game.

Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini wasn’t one of them.

The Penguins were flagged 10 times for 120 yards in Saturday’s 34-14 victory over Duquesne. Last week against Howard, they committed 13 penalties for 135 yards.

While 3-0, YSU has committed 29 penalties in three games and has shown signs of being undisciplined with several personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct calls. While visibly upset, Pelini held back at the postgame press conference.

“I’m not commenting on what I watched out there today,” he said. “You can make your deductions as far as what happened out there.”

The players were a bit more forthcoming and admitted they need to clean up some problems moving forward.

And it wasn’t just penalties. Special teams continues to be an issue as well. The Penguins had an extra point blocked, and punter Nick DeSalvo had a second straight rough outing, averaging 32 yards on four punts, including another shank, which sailed just 15 yards (he kicked a 9-yarder last week and had a 22-yard average).

“We have a lot of potential this year on both sides of the ball, and we’ve just got to cut down on the little things,” YSU senior running back Joe Alessi said. “We had too many penalties today, we’ve had too many penalties this season. That’s the one thing we really need to cut down on, and we’ll be a really good football team.”

STOP, CALIBRATE AND LISTEN: The penalties were only part of countless stoppages during the contest. The game featured several reviews, media timeouts and referee discussions, among other things.

The constant breaks in the action were frustrating for the players.

“It is difficult because you get a certain vibe, a certain flow into the game, and when you get taken out (of it) like that, you just have to sit there and wait, and you start to simmer down,” Alessi said. “You just have to try and keep yourself in it and everyone (has) to stay focused. Everybody on the sideline keeps you up. It is harder when you stop it, but we’re ready for it.”

One review was for what looked to be a great hit by defensive end Justus Reed. YSU’s leader in sacks sped past an offensive lineman and had a clean shot on DU quarterback Daniel Parr, who fumbled after being rocked by Reed. The play was reviewed, and Reed was called for targeting. That caused him to be ejected, and since the foul occurred in the second half, he will miss the first half of a Sept. 28 game against Robert Morris as well.

FUNKY FORMATION: YSU twice used three running backs in the backfield in a shotgun-diamond formation. The first time led to a short gain, but the second one resulted in back-up quarterback Joe Craycraft finding running back London Pearson out of the backfield and down the sideline for a 31-yard TD to put YSU up 21-0.

FIRST AND FIRST: Two young quarterbacks had big firsts on Saturday.

True freshman and Girard graduate Mark Waid scored his first two touchdowns, a 6-yard run and a 1-yard run. Waid was used on YSU’s first two trips to the red zone.

The aforementioned TD pass by Craycraft, a sophomore, was the first of his young career. Also, starting corner Bryce Gibson, an honorable mention all-conference pick, snagged the first interception of his career. Gibson is a junior.

HONORING A LEGEND: Former YSU quarterback Ron Jaworski was honored for his time with the Penguins during a break in the first half. Jaworski, who went on to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to the 1980 Super Bowl, played for YSU from 1969 to 1972. He owned several records when his career was over and still ranks first in average passing yards per game at 235.8.

Jaworski spent several days in the Mahoning Valley, and it was reported this was the first time he watched a YSU game live since his playing days.