Despite circumstances, YSU finding ways to win

By Charles Grove

The Youngstown State football team is finding ways to win games even when things aren’t going right.

The Penguins (5-1, 3-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) won on Saturday against Northern Iowa despite passing for just 28 yards, throwing three interceptions and losing another fumble.

It wasn’t pretty.

Luckily for the Penguins, football isn’t figure skating where wins and losses are determined by the opinions of judges of how elegant a performance was.

The Penguins offense ran for 226 yards on a defense that was allowing only 95 rushing yards per game.

On the flipside, the YSU defense limited UNI’s entire offense to 173 yards. The Panthers had been averaging 201.8 yards per game on the ground before they ran into the Penguins defense.

That dominant defense also limited UNI quarterback Aaron Bailey to half his usual passing yards, only letting him throw for 81 yards while he was trying to dodge blitzing defensive ends and linebackers. Five times, he was unsuccessful and was forced to take a sack.

These are video game-like numbers. And what’s more, there are no breaks in YSU’s schedule. Since conference play started, it feels like every week the Penguins have to face a more difficult opponent.

And the next level the Penguins have unlocked is a road test with South Dakota State, a team that just upset North Dakota State on the road.

The winner of Saturday’s YSU-SDS game will be in first place in the MVFC as the only undefeated team left in the conference.

What’s more, the YSU defense will face what could be considered its toughest test this year. South Dakota State is averaging 40.7 points per game. Limiting the Jackrabbits to 1-of-11 on third downs like they did against Northern Iowa will be a tall order, but with the way the defense is playing, why not?

The biggest question facing the team is much like it was all fall camp — who is going to be taking the snaps?

Ricky Davis left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury and Trent Hosick broke his clavicle on a 28-yard run not long after. Hosick’s surgery is scheduled for today but he will be out for the rest of the year at a minimum.

If Davis is out for this week, that leaves redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Mays, who led the team the rest of the way against Northern Iowa, and last year’s starter Hunter Wells.

Wells appears to be last on the depth chart but head coach Bo Pelini sidestepped around a question concerning his place on the depth chart after the UNI game saying his shoulder has been hurting.

Wells didn’t travel with the team to Illinois State on Oct. 8 and was in street clothes against Northern Iowa.