Penguins Lose To Leathernecks in Conference Opener

Penguins lose to Leathernecks

With the bye week, the Youngstown State football team was able to rest up, get some rehab, get into the weight room and have an extra week to prepare for the Western Illinois Leathernecks.  In the Spring, the Penguins were up big, but a costly kick and punt return gave the Leathernecks the momentum, winning 27-24.  This time, it was a revenge tour and to finish the game the winning way. The outcome was the same as the Penguins lose to the Leathernecks in the conference opener. 

1st Quarter 

Youngstown ended up receiving the opening kick, looking to make a statement early on.  On a fourth and one, coach Doug Phillips and offensive coordinator Troy Rothenbuhler made a bold call as they brought out former quarterback, now H-Back Mark Waid in for a wildcat sneak, giving the Penguins the first down.  

A few plays later, it was Jaleel McLaughlin taking it in three yards out making it 7-0 Penguins early on.  But the Leathernecks came right back with power of their own when quarterback Connor Sampson found Daniel Bender 21-yards tying it all at seven.  

Youngstown State found the end zone once more before the end of the first quarter when quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw took it himself five yards out, going up 14-7 at the end of one.  

Second Quarter 

Now the second quarter is when things started to go in the favor of YSU.  Western Illinois’ defense was still trying to find a way to stop both McLaughlin and Crenshaw’s rushing game.  The Penguins would score three more touchdowns.  Two 35 and 10 yard touchdowns from McLaughlin and a five yard touchdown by Crenshaw.  

The Leathernecks got into the end zone just before halftime when Sampson found Mason Sikes making it 35–14.  Little did everyone know, that would be a game changer for the second half because as most were already celebrating a possible win, there was still 30 minutes of football left. 

Third Quarter 

The third quarter is when things started to change.  It only took 15 plays but deferring to start the game for the Leathernecks worked.  This time off so trickery it was Tony Tate with his only pass attempt finding Ludovick Choquette in the end zone making it 35-21.  

Youngstown State got the ball back but a costly interception by Crenshaw switched momentum once again.  The Leathernecks were hard to stop in the late third quarter.  

Sampson threw two more touchdown passes to Nathan Karejens and Dennis Houston just before the end of the third tying it all up at 35 in what is one of the biggest comebacks in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.  

Fourth Quarter 

During the beginning of the fourth quarter, both defenses made stands.  Sampson was picked off by YSUs own Jordan White but once again, the Leathernecks stacked the box with nine defensive players, preventing the Penguins from running the ball with McLaughlin and the secondary prevented any deep passes.  

Some fans left the game early thinking it was over, but they did not know what was going to happen in the end as both teams were neck and neck, something that no one expected to happen.  Things can turn around quickly and the Leathernecks had YSU right where they wanted them.

Both teams traded a few punts but once it was said and done, Western Illinois had the edge.  Sampson connected with Sampson and after two Choquette rushes, it was time to kick.  YSU tried to ice Mason Laramie, but it didn’t work as the 20-yard field goal was straight through making it now 38-35.  

YSU with one last attempt tried to make something happen on the return with laterals but to no prevail as Western Illinois gets their first win of the season after being close the week before against Eastern Washington.  

This is now the Leathernecks second win in a row against the Penguins, making up for the blow out loss at Stambaugh Stadium back in 2019.  

Key Western Illinois Highlights: 

Connor Sampson: 33-48 316 yards four touchdowns and one interception.  

Ludovick Choquette: nine carries for 41 yards, eight receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown.  

Dennis Houston nine receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.  

Key Youngstown State Highlights: 

Demeatric Crenshaw: 13-22 for 76 yards and an interception.  20 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.  

Jaleel McLaughlin: 23 carries for 136 yards and three touchdowns.  Two receptions for 19 yards.  

C.J. Charleston: three receptions for 19 yards. 

Up Next: 

Youngstown State (1-2) will travel to Cedar Falls Iowa to take on the Northern Iowa (UNI) Panthers (2-1).  Kickoff is 4pm eastern and 3pm central on ESPN plus, WBCB the CW, or can be heard on 570 WKBN.  

Western Illinois (1-3) will host Illinois rival and seventh ranked Southern Illinois Salukis (3-1) at Hanson field.  Kickoff for that game is at 5pm eastern and 4pm central time on ESPN Plus or heard on WIUS 88.3 (Western Illinois Radio Station). 




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