By Dan Hiner
Entering Saturday, the Youngstown State University football team was tied with No. 7 South Dakota State University for the top spot in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
But SDSU handed YSU its first loss in the conference following the Jackrabbits’ 24-10 win over the Penguins.
YSU (5-2, 3-1 Missouri Valley Football Conference) was trailing SDSU from the opening kickoff.
SDSU (5-2, 4-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) began its first drive with a 61-yard pass from Taryn Christion to tight end Dallas Goedert. The Jackrabbits capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run from running back Brady Mengarelli, YSU first touchdown rushing allowed during the season, to take a 7-0 lead over YSU.
On YSU’s first possession of the game, quarterback Ricky Davis threw an interception over the middle of the field. SDSU linebacker Christian Rozeboom returned the ball 26 yards to the YSU four-yard line.
SDSU scored on the next play after Christion completed a swing pass to wide receiver Connor Landberg to extend the lead to 14-0.
YSU put together an 11-play drive on its next possession, but the Penguins settled for a 28-yard field goal from kicker Zak Kennedy to cut the lead to 14-3.
Kennedy had a chance to put another field goal on the board for YSU with over eight minutes left in the second quarter, but the 43-yard attempt was no good.
The Jackrabbits responded with a field goal of their own after kicker Chase Vinatieri connected on a 20-yard attempt to extend the lead. SDSU took a 17-3 lead at halftime.
YSU received the kickoff to open the second half. After an illegal block in the back on the kickoff, the Penguins started their drive at the nine-yard line.
On a third down and needing two yards, the Penguins ran a speed option with Ricky Davis. He pitched the ball to running back Jody Webb, but the ball was knocked out while Webb was fighting for the first down and the ball was recovered by SDSU.
After the fumble, the Jackrabbits started their drive at the YSU 42-yard line. Christion ran the ball for back-to-back 20-yard gains. SDSU extended the lead to 24-3 with a three-yard touchdown pass from Christion to wide receiver Jake Wieneke.
YSU’s next three possession ended with two punts and a turnover following a failed fourth down conversion.
Penguins’ quarterback Nathan Mays was inserted into the game with 9:16 left in the game. Mays took the Penguins down the field on the team’s final possession of the game. YSU running back Tevin McCaster scored the Penguins’ only touchdown of the game on a two-yard option run.
For the second consecutive season, YSU had trouble shutting down Christion. Last year he combinded for 197 total yards and two touchdowns, one passing and one rushing. On Saturday, Christion accounted for 249 total yards and two passing touchdowns.
YSU also didn’t have an answer for Goedert, who caught six passes for 108 yards receiving. Geodart is only the second receiver to record over 100 yards receiving against YSU this season.
Davis had trouble completing passes and finding open space throughout the game. Davis completed nine of 16 passes for 115 yards and an interception. Davis also ran the ball 17 times for 45 yards rushing.
YSU’s next game will come against Indiana State University on Oct. 29 at Stambaugh Stadium.
YSU 10, SDSU 24
SDSU 7-0 — Brady Mengarelli two-yard rushing touchdown (Chase Vinatieri extra point good).
SDSU 14-0 — Taryn Christion four-yard touchdown pass to Connor Landberg (Chase Vinatieri extra point good).
YSU 14-3 — Zak Kennedy 28-yard field goal.
SDSU 17-3 — Chase Vinatieri 20-yard field goal.
SDSU 24-3 — Taryn Christion three-yard touchdown pass to Jake Wieneke (Chase Vinetieri extra point good).
YSU 24-10 — Tevin McCaster two-yard touchdown run (Zak Kennedy extra point good).
Passing_YSU, Ricky Davis 9-16-0-116-1; SDSU, Taryn Christion 15-21-2-189-1.
Rushing_YSU, Martin Ruiz 11-50-0; SDSU; Brady Mengarelli 15-74-1.
Receiving_YSU, Damoun Patterson 3-31-0; SDSU Dallas Goedert 6-108-0.
Sacks_YSU, Jamar Pinnock 1, Savon Smith 1; SDSU, Kellen Soulek 2.
Tackles_YSU, Jameel Smith 11-8-3; SDSU Jesse Bobbit 10-7-3.