GATEWAY CONFERENCE FOOTBALL For YSU, it's win or no chance of playoffs

Next stop for the Penguins is Southern Illinois, which last year rallied from a 20-0 deficit.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The players on the Youngstown State football team don't have to be told the situation.
The Penguins know that if they want to extend their season into the I-AA playoffs they need to win their final three games, beginning Saturday at Southern Illinois.
The Salukis have a history of ruining a YSU season. Last year, the Penguins took a 20-0 lead into the fourth quarter against SIU and could almost taste their first Gateway Conference championship.
The Salukis rallied with 21 unanswered points, pulled a stunning 21-20 upset and destroyed the Penguins' championship hopes.
Recall game: Senior co-captains Jeff Ryan and Bob Sivik remembered that game and talked about it Tuesday.
"It is definitely in the back of my mind," said Ryan, the Penguins' starting quarterback for the past four seasons. "It cost us the Gateway championship."
"It's very much on my mind," added Sivik, the veteran outside linebacker. "Blowing a 20-0 lead the way we did, it's hard to forget."
Saturday, the Penguins (6-2, 4-2 Gateway) travel to Carbondale, Ill., to meet the Salukis (1-6, 1-4 Gateway) in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff which will be televised live on Fox 17/62.
"It's an important game," Ryan continued. "But then every game is important from here on in if we want a chance at the playoffs."
Offense lacking: Ryan said last week's 24-14 loss to Western Kentucky was frustrating for the offense.
"We didn't make the plays we were capable of making," he said.
Ryan, who threw two interceptions in the game, said his second one was one that really hurt.
"We were driving and I just made a bad read," he said. "I was trying to make something happen and it just didn't work out."
Ryan, who holds the Penguins' career touchdown pass record and the career total offense mark, said this week's game is not going to be easy, no matter what Southern Illinois' record is.
"Every game out there is a tough one, but then every game in the Gateway Conference is a tough game," he said.
"They play a solid 50 defense and have a real good linebacker," he added. "We just have to get back to basics this week and be ready to play on Saturday."
Didn't realize: Sivik, a 6-foot-3, 243-pound performer from Mentor, said the YSU defense didn't realize how fast Western Kentucky was on offense.
"We could never get that kind of speed against us in practice and until we got out there against them we didn't realize just how fast they were," he said. "After the first two series we adjusted pretty good, but by then we were down 14-0."
YSU coach Jon Heacock said it was tough to single out one aspect of the game that hurt the team.
"Games come down to how well you run the football, how well you block, how well you tackle and how well you pass the ball. Obviously we didn't do those things as well as we are capable of doing," he said.
Heacock said this week's game will be another battle.
"It's a road game and any road game is difficult, but this one will be even tougher," he added. "It comes down to a this being a one-game season and then the next game will be a one-game season."
"This is the playoffs," said Sivik. "We have to win or we're out."