By Yousof Hamza
The Youngstown State University football team looked to break its 15-game losing streak on the road this past Saturday, Oct. 23, in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The Penguins faced off against the Indiana State University Sycamores in a tightly contested game until the fourth quarter. YSU held a 17-14 lead going into the fourth, but ultimately faltered and lost 17-28.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw had to leave the game early due to an ankle injury. Senior quarterback Joe Craycraft came in to relieve the injured Crenshaw, but played poorly, throwing four interceptions.
All four interceptions came in the fourth quarter, ending each one of YSU’s drives. Craycraft went 13-31 passing for 172 yards and threw one touchdown in addition to his interceptions.
Senior tailback Jaleel McLaughlin led the team rushing with one touchdown and 138 yards on 17 touches.
Oher highlights include an interception by senior linebacker Grant Dixon in the endzone, despite wearing a cast on his broken hand.
Sophomore offensive lineman Aidan Parker explained that no matter who is throwing the ball, they need to do their job. He added that working with Craycraft was not an unfamiliar experience.
“The only difference is the different voice. Our schemes are the exact same. We’ve practiced with Joe [Craycraft], Joe and Meech [Crenshaw] were in a quarterback battle all camp, so it’s not like we’re unfamiliar with him,” Parker said.
Parker also felt the team needs to work on the small things, and said the men were a few plays from success — similar to what was said by teammates before the season began.
“There were a lot of little things that we did offensively that was uncharacteristic for us, whether it’s a missed blitz or miscommunication on the line,” Parker said.
Head coach Doug Phillips continues to stress the importance of finishing drives and the need to score touchdowns.
Phillips and the coaching staff have taken responsibility for the losses under the belief that the players are never at fault.
“It was a coach Tressel thing: it’s never the player’s fault. I want it to be on us,” Phillips said. “If we’re coaching it, we’re allowing it.”
YSU will play the 10th-ranked South Dakota State University Jackrabbits this Saturday, Oct. 30 at home. Crenshaw is not expected to play during the game.
Going into the game against SDSU, the team still feels confident despite the dismal record. SDSU is on a two-game losing streak, but has one of the top offenses in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Phillips and company look to close the gap between YSU and the top conference teams this week.
“When you look at this league, we really are outsiders trying to fight, bite and scratch to be a part of it and to compete. We got to take that type of mentality, which I think fits Youngstown. I think that fits the grit. I think that fits the community and people we are and we got to go in a battle and fight as hard as we can,” Phillips said.
The remainder of YSU’s schedule is tough with three of the four remaining games against top 10 ranked opponents. After YSU plays SDSU they head to the University of North Dakota before returning home to play No. 2 North Dakota State University. The team finishes on the road playing against No. 3 Southern Illinois University.