Penguins Blow Lead Against Jackrabbits
Usually, one loss in conference play is not always a bad thing, two losses, however, especially when you are up at halftime can sense disaster. That is what YSU fans are the most worried about as the Penguins blow the lead against Jackrabbits from South Dakota State.
The biggest story coming into this game was not how the Penguins can bounce back from a tough 21-14 loss last week. It also wasn’t getting their revenge on the Jackrabbits who ended up beating them 36-7 at Dana J. Dykhouse last season. Instead, it was if Nathan Mays would play after suffering a leg injury at the end of the Northern Iowa game.
Breakdown of the 38-28 Loss
South Dakota State got on the board first thanks to a Chase Vinatieri field goal. That didn’t last though as Mays, who would start, used his legs and took it in 28 yards out making the score 7-3. Mays would then take it in himself in the second quarter making it 14-3 at the half. There was arguably a call missed during the first half. A potential holding penalty should have been called as Kendric Mallory was being held as the ball sailed over his head.
Youngstown State got off to a slow start in the third as Mays would force a ball which was then picked off by Jackrabbits cornerback Don Gardner. Gardner took it 42 yards for a touchdown. South Dakota State tried to make it a three-point game but missed the two-point conversion making it 14-9.
YSU came back from their slow start and Mays found running back Joe Alessi with a quick swing route. Alessi took it 45 yards for a touchdown making the score 21-9. By all accounts, the Penguins put the game away.
However, that would be the last time YSU saw momentum on their side. Penalties and big plays by South Dakota State had the Penguins fall off a cliff. There is a quote according to the Tribune Chronicle, where senior linebacker Cash Mitchell said: “It affected us big.” He further stated that they were tired out. It seemed as though right when the defense was going to get off the field a penalty kept them on.
Penalties Hurt the Penguins
There was another flag on third-and-goal from the nine. Holding was called on cornerback Zaire Jones. The replay showed different as the receiver fell without contact from Jones. This lead to a quarterback run by J’Brone Gibbs. Effectively cutting the YSU lead to only four points with the score being 21-16 Penguins.
YSU had a drive going, but center Matt Jones was called for unsportsmanlike conduct which drove the Penguins back, forcing a punt a few plays later. Also, according to the Tribune Chronicle, head coach Bo Pelini said that a championship team doesn’t make selfish plays like that. Further, how the team is getting in their own way. Pelini was very honest about the state of his team in his post-game press conference posted by the Youngstown State Penguins.
Pelini further told the Tribune Chronicle that “you can’t be front runners, when things are going good you play good, but when you face adversity, you gotta man up.” This was followed by him saying “our tackling for a couple of those drives was horrendous.”
South Dakota State quarterback Gibbs found wide receiver Cade Johnson for an 81-yard touchdown pass, and then they did a Pitt Panther/Philly Special where Johnson found Blake Kunz for the two-point conversion. South Dakota State finally put this game away with a C.J. Wilson 13-yard run, and a Gibbs 63-yard touchdown run.
Mays went down with what seemed like the same leg injury as last week. Backup Joe Craycraft came in and found tight end Miles Joiner for a 17-yard touchdown pass. This was Youngstown State’s last touchdown of the night as they fell 38-28. In the end, the Penguins blow the lead to the Jackrabbits.
Statistics for Both Teams
Mays ended up throwing for 176 yards on 14-24 completions, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He also rushed for 58 yards on 13 carries. Craycraft was 6-10 for 91 yards and a touchdown. Mark Waid had two carries for seven yards.
Alessi had 17 carries for 72 yards rushing, while Christian Turner saw a limited amount of time rushing. Turner only had five carries for eight yards.
Joiner was the leading receiver with five receptions for 81 yards. Jermiah Braswell had four receptions for 53 yards. Samuel St. Surin had four receptions for 49 yards and Ryan Emans finished with two receptions for 17 yards.
South Dakota State
J’Brone Gibbs was 14-26 passing with 210 yards and a touchdown. Gibbs rushed for 75 yards on two carries and two touchdowns.
Up Next for YSU
Youngstown State (4-2), will travel to Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Illinois where they will take on the Southern Illinois Salukis (2-4). Kickoff is 3:00 pm ET either on ESPN Plus, or WBCB the Valley’s CW.
South Dakota State (5-1), will head to Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute, Indiana to take on the Indiana State Sycamores (3-3). Kickoff is 1:00 pm ET on ESPN3.