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76th Homecoming on tap

Saturday, October 29, 2016

By Greg Gulas


Today’s Indiana State-Youngstown State football Stambaugh Stadium will be the Penguins’ 76th Homecoming Game. It will be the 35th time the game is played at the Ice Castle on Dike Beede Field.

Before 1982, YSU used such high school venues as South High School, Rayen School, Campbell Memorial and Austintown Fitch.

Stambaugh Stadium opened on Sept. 4, 1982 as Akron defeated YSU, 20-19, on a Dennis Heckman field goal with less than a minute to play.

The Penguins struggled that first year, opening with a 1-2 record. That luck change thanks to roommates from Mayfield Heights (Mike Sloe) and Euclid (Paul McFadden).

On Oct. 30, the Penguins defeated Ohio Valley Conference opponent Middle Tennessee State University, 11-10. It was the second-straight win for the Penguins who finished 6-5 after a five-game winning streak.

Sloe, who sat out the 1981 season with a knee injury, was relegated to a backup quarterback role during the team’s first six games. When starting quarterback Jamie DeVore went down with an injured knee and after Griffin Keys was felled, Sloe was told by head coach Bill Narduzzi that he would be his starting signal-caller on Homecoming Day.

“When I got the news from Coach Narduzzi about the start, I was on cloud nine,” Sloe said. “I had about 40 family members and friends at the game, so it was a very special day for me,.”

McFadden, a bare-footed placekicker who initially came to YSU to play soccer, said the Blue Raiders were looking to avenge a 13-10 defeated from 1981.

“There were two excellent coaches matching strategy that day with Coach Narduzzi on our sideline and Boots Donnelly,” said McFadden, now the YSU Foundation president. “They had a super placekicker in Kelly Potter, but Mike Sloe took it upon himself to do it all and kind of put us on his back that day.”

In the lowest scoring game of the season, Potter gave the Blue Raiders a 3-0 lead with a 36-yard field goal less than five minutes into the game.

YSU co-captain Tom Cullen tackled the MTSU quarterback in the end zone for a safety for a In the fourth quarter, Kevin Baker’s 43-yard touchdown run stretched the Blue Raiders lead to 10-2.

McFadden’s 49-yard field with 10:13 remaining cut the MYSU lead to 10-5.

“The kick barely snuck in as it was kissing the left upright, finally falling through,” McFadden said. “We were facing the scoreboard and I was just happy that we were able to cut into their lead.”

When YSU got the ball back, Sloe marched the team down the field, engineering a 10-play, 87-yard drive. He capped it with an 18-yard run for the game-winning score.

“That was the longest run of my career,” Sloe said. “I remember everything as if it happened just yesterday.

“I somehow outran one of the defenders that was chasing and ended up in the end zone. My brother-in-law was on the sideline taking photos, he captured that run and to this day it’s the only photo that hangs in my office from my college career.”

Sloe and McFadden had a hand in nine of the 11 points — Sloe was also the holder for McFadden’s field goal.

The Penguins finished 4-3 in the OVC.

YSU has gone 23-11 in Homecoming Games at Stambaugh Stadium. Last year’s game was a 38-8 loss to South Dakota State. They are 51-23-1 in Homecoming Games.