Hilltoppers lead series with Penguins, 6-4

Their last two games were decided late by clutch plays.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The last two times that Youngstown State and Western Kentucky met on the football field, the games were decided by a late fourth period score.
In 1989 the Hilltoppers defeated the host Penguins 41-38 on a field goal with 23 seconds remaining, and in 1990 the Penguins scored a touchdown with 3:16 remaining to win 17-14 in Bowling Green, Ky.
Today the teams square off for the 11th time at 1 p.m. in Stambaugh Stadium. The Hilltoppers lead the series 6-4. A big crowd is expected; as of Friday morning 16,500 tickets had been sold.
The Penguins (6-1, 4-1 Gateway Conference) come into the contest ranked No. 5 in both of the I-AA national polls, while Western Kentucky (5-2, 2-1) is ranked No. 10.
The game is being billed as a "must win" for both teams if either is to challenge Northern Iowa for the conference championship and the automatic bid to the playoffs.
Northern Iowa is 4-0 with three Gateway games remaining, including one at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers have four conference games to play, while the Penguins have two -- they visit Southern Illinois next week.
The "must win" also comes into play if either the Penguins or Hilltoppers expect to get an at-large bid into the playoffs. YSU still has a game at Marshall on Nov. 24.
Neither team can expect to make the playoff with three losses, especially the Penguins, who own two victories against Div. II opponents.
Green injured: It was learned this week that senior defensive backup Marcus Green (6-foot-3, 238 pounds) will not play today because of a separated shoulder. He probably won't be ready until the Elon game or possibly the Marshall contest.
Junior defensive back Anthony Barone is nursing a slightly sprained ankle and is questionable for today's game, but junior linebacker Ken Baun, who missed last week's contest, is expected back in the lineup.
Elsewhere around the Gateway Conference, Northern Iowa (6-1, 4-0) will travel to Illinois State (0-7, 0-3) in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
UNI beat the Redbirds 34-28 last year and lead the series 12-5.
Western Illinois (4-2, 3-2) will play host to Southwest Missouri State in a 2:05 p.m. kickoff in Macomb, Ill. The Leathernecks won last year's contest 14-10 and hold a slight edge in the series 10-9-1.
Indiana State (2-5, 1-2) will try to make it two straight wins in the conference when it plays host to Southern Illinois (1-5, 1-2) in Terre Haute, Ind., at 3 p.m. The Sycamores beat the Salukis 23-22 a year ago and lead the overall series 21-17.