Battle of the birds grounds Penguins

Penguins taking the field against UND. Photo by Cameron Stubbs / The Jambar

By Cameron Stubbs

The Youngstown State University football team returned to Stambaugh Stadium following a two-game road trip to take on the University of North Dakota.

The Penguins were unable to upend the No. 22 ranked Fighting Hawks as they fell 35-30.

Youngstown State turned to another quarterback option as junior Mitch Davidson was granted the start and put together a strong performance. He went 21 for 32 with career highs in passing yards and touchdowns with 280 yards and two touchdowns.

Davidson was happy with his performance, but unsatisfied with the loss.

“It’s not about my performance, it’s about the offense and how well we play as a team,” Davidson said. “I thought we did a lot of things well, our O-line did an incredible job tonight. We came up short; as an offense we have a lot to fix. [We] had a lot of plays left on that field.”

Junior wide receiver Bryce Oliver caught eight passes for 88 yards which were both career-highs, with a touchdown to add onto his total.

Redshirt freshman Max Tomczak kept the theme going as he hauled in a career-high seven catches with one resulting in a touchdown.

Senior running back Jaleel McLaughlin contributed with his usual numbers of 138 yards on the ground and a touchdown to go along with his performance.

The game started to take shape in the fourth quarter as the Penguins were up 24-21 at the beginning of the quarter.

Graduate student Tyler Hoosman for the Fighting Hawks scored his second touchdown of the game to put UND up by four.

The Penguins set up to punt on their next position, but a mishandled snap by the senior punter Paddy Lynch resulted in a three-yard score by Cole Davis, Fighting Hawks redshirt freshman who had the block, scoop and score on the play.

The Penguins retaliated with a score by McLaughlin to make the game 35-30.

The last drive by Youngstown State was hindered, as a sack on third down forced the team to try to convert a fourth and 16 with 1:06 left on the game clock.

Davidson targeted Oliver for a 10 yard reception, but that was all he could manage as he fell short of the first down marker. 

Head coach Doug Phillips was unhappy the team could not pull off a comeback in the late stages of the game.

“You don’t want to be in fourth and long in those situations.” Phillips said. “There’s mistakes made, and what I told the kids in the locker room was that when there’s mistakes made, I don’t want to see finger pointing, we made enough mistakes … As a head coach I have to [be] better and limit those mistakes.”

The Penguins will stay at home and try to right the ship as they welcome Indiana State University on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. for this year’s homecoming game. Catch the game on ESPN+ or on 570 WKBN.