By Cameron Niemi
The Youngstown State University football team had its annual team scrimmage, the Red-White Spring Game at Stambaugh Stadium, April 15.
The red team secured a 37-13 victory over the white team.
The team ended its 2022 season with a 7-4 record but missed the playoffs. The Penguins are hoping for a strong 2023 season, the team will retain a majority of its offensive and defensive starters.
Senior quarterback Mitch Davidson returns after an impressive junior year.
Davidson started the final seven games of the season and completed 59.2% of his passes.
He also threw for over 1,600 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one interception. Davidson also had four rushing touchdowns.
The Penguins also retained senior wideout Bryce Oliver who racked up 821 yards on 59 receptions and 10 touchdowns last season.
Youngstown State will have big holes to fill after losing star running back Jaleel McLaughlin and center Mike McAllister to the 2023 NFL Draft.
Senior tailback Dra Rushton returns after 329 rushing yards and two touchdowns last season. The team will lean on him heavily this upcoming season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the ‘Guins have their leading tacklers returning. Defensive backs junior Jordan Trowers and senior Quincy Lenton led the team in tackles.
The linebacker core will return as well. Led by senior Greg Benton Jr. and junior Alex Howard as the duo combined 69 tackles a year ago.
In the scrimmage, Davidson played four series for both teams, as he led the offenses to a scoring drive in each series. Davidson threw two touchdown passes in his first two drives.
His first drive was caught by Oliver and the second was caught by senior tight end Jake Benio.
That drive was followed by an impressive rushing touchdown by redshirt freshman Cephus Harris III, as he broke multiple tackles on his way into the endzone.
Harris ran the ball well the entire game and then caught the final touchdown pass from Davidson shortly after his touchdown run.
Davidson spoke after the scrimmage about being one of the veteran leaders on the team and the progress of the team throughout spring training leading into the summer.
“Our brotherhood has been extraordinary, we were out here having fun today. We drafted teams, you have offensive guys drafting defensive guys, and defensive guys drafting offensive guys,” Davidson said. “Coming back this summer it’s going to be huge to get some off-field work in and fix all the little things, get in the film room and study all this tape from these 15 practices.”
The starting defense was solid and stopped the run early. Later in the game the red team defense got a safety in the endzone against the white team offense.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Beau Brungard also had an impressive day throwing the ball and using his feet, as he had a rushing touchdown later in the game and threw one to Tomczak.
Head coach Doug Phillips is entering his fourth season and spoke after the scrimmage on his team’s performance.
“We talk about being disciplined, driven and when you play games in the Missouri Valley you gotta be a disciplined group,” Phillips said. “I thought both sides you saw some big plays, from a lot of kids.”
Phillips also talked about the importance of having a strong spring practice period after the finish of last season.
“Leave no doubt. How good we want to be, we got to focus on our actions,” Phillips said. “We gotta understand that how we react to certain situations, whether it’s adversity and success, that ultimately dictates your outcome.”
The football team will kick off its 2023 season at home Aug. 31 against Valparaiso University.