Youngstown State has had a great season so far against the non-conference opponents. Saturday was, however, a challenge as the Penguins would head to Cedar Falls Iowa to take on the Northern Iowa Panthers at the UNI-Dome. The 17th ranked Penguins never gave up and kept battling, but it was not enough as Northern Iowa had the advantage and won 21-14. They are now 1-0 in conference play while YSU falls to 0-1.
YSU Falls To UNI
The first drive for both teams started slow but picked up in Northern Iowa’s second drive when YSU defensive back Bryce Gibson was called for a pass interference penalty. Quarterback Will McElvain would then find wide receiver Isaiah Weston for a 39-yard touchdown making it 7-0 Panthers with 2:03 left in the first quarter.
Northern Iowa had a nice drive by Tyler Hoosman which then led to a McElvain 42-yard pass to Jaylin James putting the Panthers in the RedZone. This was followed by Trevor Allens run to the Penguins 14-yard line, and then a 10-yard touchdown putting UNI up 14-0 with 5:07 left in the second.
The defense was beaten on the last possession before halftime as UNI drove down the field and Hoosman took it in 15 yards out for a touchdown making it 21-7 going into the half.
Second Half Chances
After a struggling first half, the Guins were looking for a second-half bounce back and it started out that way.
Mays would find tight end Miles Joiner for a 15 yard gain, Joe Alessi would then rush it for 12 yards, and Mays would then find Ryan Emans for 20 yards and then two plays later, he would find Kendric Mallory 14 yards out cutting it back to seven in the third.
YSU got the ball back after a three and out by Northern Iowa but was stopped by the Panthers defense. Colten McFadden who was also celebrating his 21st birthday wasn’t celebrating after his 44-yard miss and UNI would get the ball right back.
The Panthers punted away to the Penguins, but Northern Iowa defensive back Austin Evans sacked Mays causing a fumble which was recovered by defensive linemen Seth Thomas basically putting the game away after that.
The Panthers bounced back from a 31-10 defeat against the Penguins at the Ice Castle last year, to a 21-14 victory at their own dome. Northern Iowa now leads the Penguins 23-9 in all-time series meetings between the two teams.
Further note; Youngstown State has not won a game at the UNI-Dome since the 1999 season.
Nathan Mays ended up finishing 17/23 on completions/attempts, 239 yards passing and two touchdowns in the loss.
Mays will likely be out after getting hurt and put on crunches at the end of the game. That means it will either be sophomore Joe Craycraft, or Freshman Mark Waid. Either will likely be taking over the quarterback duties for a few weeks.
At running back, it was Joe Alessi who had the highest rushing yards with 28 on eight carries. Following him was Christian Turner who had nine carries for 15 yards.
Cash Mitchell would force a turnover and his teammate, defensive end Ma’lik Richmond, would recover it. YSU would, however, punt a few plays after.
Christian Turner has two kick returns for 49 yards with his longest being 25 yards. Jake Coates had five punt returns for 41 yards. His longest was also 25 yards.
Colt McFadden missed the only field goal from 44 yards out, but still finished perfect on extra points going 2/2.
NORTHERN IOWA STATS
Will McElvain finished 10 of 20 with 235 yards passing and a touchdown. Trevor Allen had 16 carries and rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Hoosman had 38 yards rushing with eight carries.
Isaiah Weston was the leading receiver with 108 yards on three receptions. Jaylin James had two receptions for 63 yards on the receiving end. Aaron Graham only caught one pass but it was for 34 yards.
Deion McShane finished with three receptions with 28 yards. Allen had one reception for two yards.
Northern Iowa (3-2) will have another tough Missouri Valley Football Conference match-up. They take on the undefeated and defending champ North Dakota State Bison (5-0) at the Fargodome. Kickoff is 2 pm on ESPN Plus.
Youngstown State (4-1) will then head back to the Ice Castle (Stambaugh Stadium). They will take on Missouri Valley Football Conference Rival South Dakota State Jackrabbits (4-1). Kickoff is 6 pm on ESPN Plus.