Penguins down to third-string QB in victory

Third-string QB rallies Penguins over Panthers

By Charles Grove


On a night where Youngstown State was honoring their 1991 National Champions who won the title game with 17 points in the fourth quarter, YSU came up with 14 fourth-quarter points Saturday to come from behind and beat Northern Iowa 14-10.

Nathan Mays, third-string quarterback and the week’s scout team quarterback, was forced to come in during the second quarter when Ricky Davis and Trent Hosick were sidelined with injuries.

Pelini said Hosick broke his right collar bone and will be having surgery in a few days.

Hosick said he will be having surgery Monday and he had been informed by doctors that the break is severe enough to require multiple steel plates to repair and could end his football career.

Mays helped engineer two long drives that took 11:40 off the clock and the other a 10-play, 53-yard drive that gave YSU their first lead with 28 seconds to go when Martin Ruiz ran it in from one-yard out.

That time of possession hardly allowed the UNI offense to take the field in the second half. The Penguins also limited the Panthers (2-4, 1-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) to 1-of-11 on third down conversions.

“I can tell you this, I’ve been coaching a long time and I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of a team as I am of this team,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “They earned it tonight against a lot of odds.”

YSU may have only been 5-of-14 throwing the ball for 28 yards and three interceptions between Davis, Hosick and Mays, but the Penguins dominated the line of scrimmage rushing 61 times for 226 yards.

Once Mays entered the game, offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery came down from his box atop the suites to provide the hand signals for Mays in his shrunken playbook — which was just 15 plays.

Fourth-string quarterback Hunter Wells was in street clothes and was unavailable with a sore shoulder.

“I never quite thought I would be coming in as a third-string quarterback,” Mays said. “It was definitely out of nowhere. It didn’t quite hit me until I got hit that first play.”

YSU fell behind on a 27-yard field goal from Austin Errthum with 7:50 before halftime. That lead swelled moments later when Davis threw a pass right to UNI linebacker Duncan Ferch who returned it 34 yards for a touchdown that put the visitors up 10-0 at halftime.

“The message was don’t panic,” Pelini said.

The Penguins did not panic at any point during that second half. The Penguins converted two fourth downs and held the ball so much UNI had less than eight minutes of possession in the second thirty minutes.

YSU offensive lineman Vytas Hrynkiwicz said he relied on leadership from the rest of the line to help find that little extra energy the UNI defense was struggling to find during those long drives of mostly runs right up the gut.

“That senior leadership took over with Brock [Eisenhuth], Dylan [Colucci] and ever Gavin [Wiggins] and Justin [Spencer],” Hrynikiwicz said. “They pushed us through. They kept saying, ‘Two more. Keep going, keep going.’ We thrive on that.”

last team standing

With Ohio State giving up a rushing touchdown to Wisconsin, Youngstown State is the only FBS or FCS football team in the country to not allow a single rushing touchdown.

next coach up?

With Mays the last quarterback dressed on the sideline and Wells in street clothes, the question had to be asked? Who would’ve been next had Mays gotten hurt?

“Me,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said jokingly. “And just so you know I can still do it.”