Penguins waddle into “The Shoe”

Over 102,000 people were in attendance at the YSU vs. OSU game. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Cameron Niemi

The Youngstown State University football team wrapped up its home opener Aug. 31, as it defeated Valparaiso University by a final 52-10. The Penguins improved to 1-0 on the season, thanks to the team’s dominant second half performance. 

YSU jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Stambaugh Stadium erupted as senior Tyshon King ran 62-yards downfield to give the Penguins an early lead.

King was efficient on the night, as he finished with 11 carries, 111 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. 

In the second quarter, the Beacons kicked a field goal to make it a five-point game. The Penguins responded with a 10-play, 80-yard drive.

Senior quarterback Mitch Davidson connected with junior wide receiver C.J. Charleston, for the 17-yard touchdown. This was Charleston’s first game back after missing last season because of an injury.

Charleston spoke on what that moment meant to him and being back on the field with his teammates.

“It was a blessing, when I scored today I almost shed tears. There were times last year I didn’t think I was gonna be able to play football again,” Charleston said. “It brought that happiness back and I’m grateful to be back out there with my guys.”

Special teams and defense played a big role in the second half, as they forced fumbles on two consecutive drives. The Penguins also had a blocked punt by sophomore Michael Voitus and recovered by sophomore Jaylen Castleberry, who ran in the seven yard touchdown that gave the Penguins a 24-10 lead.

Davidson and King each rushed for touchdowns, which extended the Penguin lead to 38-10. Davidson finished 11-of-19 passing and 130 yards through the air. 

Senior Dylan Wudke recovered the third forced fumble of the second half for the ‘Guins, which led to a 54-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman Da’Shaun Whatley. 

Youngstown State traveled to Columbus to take on the fifth-ranked Ohio State University, 1-0, at Ohio Stadium for the first time in 15 years, Sept. 9. The Buckeyes went into the game leading the all-time series with a record of 2-0 against the Penguins. 

The “Shoe” was packed for the Buckeyes home opener, as over 102,000 fans were in attendance. 

The Penguins put up a strong fight against the heavily favored OSU, but lost by a final score 35-7.

Ohio State jumped out to an early, 7-0 lead before the Penguin offense marched 75-yards down field to even the score. 

Davidson ran the ball in from 1-yard out, as he dove into the endzone untouched, waddling his way to celebrate with his teammates. This was the first time in school history the Penguins scored a touchdown against Ohio State.

Offensively, Davidson finished 12-of-18 for 98 yards and King had 12 carries for 66 yards, and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. 

Defensively, Youngstown State looked stout, despite three unanswered touchdowns by Ohio State before half-time. 

The Penguins defense allowed only one touchdown in the second half, which came in the third quarter. Youngstown had a major fourth down stop on its own five-yard line in the fourth quarter. 

Head coach Doug Phillips spoke after the game on the team’s effort against the Buckeyes. 

“We didn’t come here just to get moral victories, we came here to compete and try to win a football game,” Phillips said. “We gotta take and learn from this and get better. I thought we were a lot better this week than we were a week ago, and now we gotta take that next step.”

Youngstown State returns home with a 1-1 record to host their last non-conference opponent, at 2 p.m. on Sept. 16 against Robert Morris University.

Students can get their free ticket at the bookstore or at the ticket booth on gameday. You can watch on ESPN+ or listen to the game on the iHeart Radio app, as well as 570 WKBN.