Penguins Push SDSU Around In Valley Opener

Jackrabbits Fall At Youngstown State 19-7

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown State’s Tevin McCaster paced a ball-control offense with 183 rushing yards and a touchdown on 35 carries to lead the Penguins to a 19-7 victory over fourth-ranked South Dakota State in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both teams Saturday night at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Penguins, ranked fifth in the FCS coaches’ poll and sixth in the STATS media poll, ran for 310 yards and possessed the ball for more than 45 minutes in improving to 3-1 overall. SDSU dropped to 3-1 overall.

Youngstown State set the tone on its first drive, putting together a 16-play, 94-yard march. Backup quarterback Nathan Mays, who entered the game in place of an injured Hunter Wells eight plays into the game, completed both of his pass attempts before capping the drive on a fourth-down play with a 4-yard touchdown run.

SDSU came back to knot the game at 7-all early in the second quarter with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive of its own. Taryn Christion connected with All-America wide receiver Jake Wieneke three times on the drive, the last of which covered 11 yards for what would be the only Jackrabbit score of the night.

The Penguins quickly countered with their second scoring drive of the game – all of it coming on the ground. McCaster carried seven times for 60 yards on the drive, including the final yard for a touchdown, to finish off a nine-play, 75-yard drive.

Each team squandered a red-zone opportunity on either end of the first half. The Jackrabbits took the opening kickoff and were on the doorstep of the end zone when Dallas Goedert had the ball jarred loose at YSU 6 by Jalyn Powell and the fumble was recovered by the Penguins’ Kyle Hegedus after a 31-yard catch and run down the middle.

The Penguins looked to build on their 14-7 lead late in the first half. YSU converted on a pair of third downs to move the ball deep into Jackrabbit territory. With no timeouts remaining and the ball at the SDSU 5 with 11 seconds remaining, McCaster was tackled inbounds by Jordan Brown and Nick Farina after catching a swing pass at the 2-yard line, allowing the clock to run out.

The Jackrabbit defense thwarted another YSU drive deep in SDSU territory in the third quarter as backup safety Larenzo Williams came up with an interception at the 1-yard line.

However, on the first play of the ensuing drive, Mikey Daniel was tackled in the end zone for a safety that upped the Youngstown State lead to 16-7.

The Penguins then put together another methodical drive after the free kick, pushing their lead to 19-7 with 10 minutes and 21 seconds to play in the game on a 24-yard field goal by Zak Kennedy that capped a 15-play, 60-yard march.

SDSU’s comeback attempt ended in Youngstown State territory as Christion had a pass intercepted by Armond Dellovade at the Penguin 19 with 8:38 to play.

The Jackrabbits would not get the ball back as YSU converted on three third-down plays before time expired with the ball at the SDSU 1.

Youngstown State finished with a 448-222 advantage in total offense and ran 86 offensive plays compared to only 37 by the Jackrabbits. Besides McCaster’s 183 yards on the ground, Mays accounted for 113 through the air on 14-of-19 passing and gained 65 rushing yards on 11 carries. Alvin Bailey led the Penguin receivers with a game-high six catches for 43 yards.

Christion ended the night 10-of-21 passing for 157 yards and paced the Jackrabbits on the ground with 28 yards on five carries. Wieneke tallied four catches for 61 yards, with Goedert adding three receptions for 58 yards.

Christian Rozeboom was credited with a game-high 14 tackles, followed by career-high 11 tackles from both Eric Kleinschmit and Jordan Brown.

The Jackrabbits return home Oct. 7 to host Southern Illinois in the Hall of Fame Game. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

* SDSU leads the all-time series, 12-7
* The Jackrabbits have won 8 of 10 meetings between the two squads as Missouri Valley Football Conference opponents, with YSU’s other victory coming during the 2014 season
* SDSU dropped to 4-6 in MVFC openers
* Rozeboom registered double figures in tackles for the second time this season and ninth time in his career
* Wieneke recorded his 49th career touchdown reception and has at least one touchdown reception in 29 of 43 career games
* Christion moved into fourth place on the SDSU career total offense charts with 6,722 yards, passing Zach Zenner (6,548 yards from 2011-14)
* Attendance was 17,450

-Recap Courtesy SDSU Athletics

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