By Kyle Wills
Following last week’s bye, the Youngstown State University football team opened up its Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule against top ranked North Dakota State University, losing 27-14.
The strong running game returned for Youngstown State as senior Jaleel McLaughin shed his disappointing performance against the University of Kentucky with 150 yards on 17 carries against NDSU. His rushing total makes him the seventh player in NCAA history with over 7,000 career rushing yards.
The passing struggled as the Penguins could only pass for 121 yards. Junior Mitch Davidson came in during the third quarter for sophomore Demeatric Crenshaw at quarterback and threw for 87 of those yards including the team’s only touchdown.
The Bison run game pounded the ball against the Penguins with 46 rushes for 227 yards and all three of their touchdowns. NDSU also found success in the air, completing 13 of its 18 passes for 145 yards.
Multiple players made tackles for the Penguins as sophomore Jordan Trowers led the way with eight while sophomores D’Marco Augustin and Chris Fitzgerald, and junior Marcus Hooker had seven. Sophomore Dylan Wudke recorded six including a sack, marking his third straight game with a QB takedown.
With Davidson taking over under center against NDSU, head coach Doug Phillips said there isn’t a set starter at quarterback.
“We’re evaluating each and every day. We have four quarterbacks that rep every practice. For us, it’s about getting first downs, scoring touchdowns and getting wins. And whatever is necessary to get wins, that person is going to play the football game,” Phillips said.
With the men returning to Stambaugh Stadium for consecutive games, senior Greg Benton Jr. said the two games are important to the team’s season.
“It’s definitely great to be back at the Ice Castle. Definitely a good advantage to have home field advantage. I’m excited for it. To have back-to-back home games is crucial to our momentum,” Benton Jr. said.
Phillips said with the team at .500 through its first four games, the group has to play with more urgency.
“If we’re 2-2 and we got a Missouri Valley conference game coming to our place, what’s the mindset got to be? The sense of urgency. Making sure the 127 there in the locker room are getting their minds ready for a battle,” Phillips said.
The football team will look to regain its momentum this Saturday when it returns to the Ice Castle to take on the University of North Dakota at 6 p.m. The game can be listened to on 570 WKBN or watched on ESPN+.