By Dylan Lux
The Youngstown State University football team was on the road as it took part in a closely-contested matchup against the University of South Dakota on Oct. 14.
The first quarter of the game started with each team trading a field goal as the Coyotes sank a 41-yard kick. Redshirt freshman Andrew Lastovka buried a 26-yard kick to tie the game at 3-3 before the end of the first period.
The USD offense took control of the game in the second quarter as two touchdowns were scored. Heading into the locker room, YSU trailed 17-3.
Head coach Doug Phillips took responsibility for the team’s deficit in the first and second quarters.
“You go on the road, you go down 17-3 [and] 24-3 … that’s my responsibility,” Phillips said. “There’s a lot of things that happen [that] people don’t see.”
The third quarter saw an explosion of scoring for each team, with four touchdowns scored within the first six minutes, and three scores in a two-minute span.
The score was 24-3 when the Penguins retaliated with a 65-yard pass from senior quarterback Mitch Davidson to redshirt freshman tight end Joey Farthing to give them their first touchdown of the game.
The quick three-play, 76-yard drive was matched 45 seconds later by a long USD pass as quarterback Aidan Bouman connected with wide receiver Carter Bell for a 65-yard score.
With the score at 31-10, the Penguins needed to find an answer, which came at the 6:13 mark of the third quarter, with another long-pass play. Davidson connected with sophomore receiver Max Tomczak for a 66-yard pass, which made the score 17-31.
The Penguins would go on to score two more touchdowns as part of their 21-0 scoring run in the third and fourth quarters.
Senior running back Dra Rushton scored on a dive play from one yard out, which moved YSU within one score.
Around the 12:30 mark of the fourth quarter, senior linebacker Greg Benton Jr. forced a fumble on the Coyotes’ tight end J.J. Galbreath, which was recovered by YSU junior defensive back Jordan Trowers at the team’s own 34-yard line.
To tie the game with 5:38 remaining, Davidson found senior wide-out Bryce Oliver in the right half of the endzone for a diving catch.
Phillips said it’s tough to compete in hostile territory, and was proud of the team’s comeback and how it equalized the score.
“I give them all the credit for getting back in the game that just shows you the character [the team] has,” Phillips said.
The Penguins received the ball off a punt from the Coyotes with 2:27 left in the fourth but had to punt the ball away with 19 seconds remaining.
USD managed to get into field goal range with three seconds to go, and kicker Will Leyland of the Coyotes buried a 41-yard kick to seal the game and send the Penguins home with their third loss of the season.
The football team moves to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play. It will return to action inside Stambaugh Stadium for the homecoming game against Illinois State University at 2 p.m. Oct. 21.
Tomczak said the team is not letting its 3-3 record distract them, as its matchup with Illinois State is just as important as its previous game.
“You got to give Illinois State props, they’re a good team,” Tomczak said. “It’s going to be a battle, we know that with every Missouri Valley Conference team. We’re not worried about [our record], we’re not going to have that affect our mindset.”
Tickets can be purchased at mpv.tickets.com and to watch the game live, visit ESPN+.