By Cameron Niemi
The Youngstown State University football team traveled to Terre Haute, Indiana to take on winless Indiana State University on Nov. 4. The Penguins won their first road game of the season, 19-7.
Indiana State scored first and took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. The Penguins responded with a 18-yard rushing touchdown from senior quarterback Mitch Davidson. The game was tied at seven heading into the second quarter.
Both teams battled back-and-forth defensively in the second quarter. The offenses went scoreless for 15 minutes and at halftime it remained 7-7.
YSU received the ball to start the third quarter and went on a seven-minute drive that ended in a 35-yard field goal from freshman kicker Andrew Lastovka, which gave the ‘Guins a 10-7 lead.
After a defensive stop from YSU, the Sycamores punted. The Penguin offense drove down the field and extended its lead to 13-7, as Lastovka hit from 45 yards out.
On Indiana State’s ensuing drive, junior Troy Jackubec picked off Cade Chambers’s pass for Jakubec’s fourth interception of the season.
The Penguins capitalized off the turnover with another seven-minute drive, which was capped off with a 37-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback redshirt freshman Beau Brungard that sealed the game for the ‘Guins.
Davidson was efficient in the game as he went 25-of-37 passing for 254 yards. Sophomore Max Tomczak had a career high in receptions as he caught 10 passes from Davidson for 81 total yards.
On Nov. 11, YSU welcomed the defending FCS champions South Dakota State University into Stambaugh Stadium. The Jackrabbits came into the game with a 9-0 overall record and ranked No.1 in the FCS Rankings.
SDSU spoiled senior day in the Ice Castle as it defeated the Penguins by a final score of 34-0.
YSU struggled offensively against a veteran and stout Jackrabbits defense. The South Dakota State offense put up 20 points in the first half and added two more touchdowns in the second.
Davidson spoke after the game about the team’s loss and what went wrong against the tough SDSU team.
“We gotta be mistake free and we weren’t today. We knew all week we gotta take care of the football. We gotta have a better first half, our defense was playing hard and we didn’t score points,” Davidson said. “It’s a bunch of sixth-year guys that have played a lot of football games together.”
The Penguins drop to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which has them in a four-way tie for fourth. The team also remains in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 as it dropped down to No. 25.
YSU will need to take care of business on the road in its season finale in hopes of making the FCS playoffs. The committee will once again decide if the Penguins will make the cut for playoffs.
Junior center Aidan Parker spoke about the possibility of making the playoffs.
“Some of those road games we didn’t quite take care of business, but we know at the end of the day who we are and how good of a team we are,” Parker said. “We get in those playoffs anything can happen. We start to put it all together, we are gonna be a really scary team.”
The FCS Selection Show is set for 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 19. on ESPNU. YSU needs to win and University of Northern Iowa needs to lose for Youngstown State to get a low seed bid in the playoffs.
Youngstown State will play its final game of the season in Murray, Kentucky, to take on Murray State University for the first time since 1986.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m on Nov. 18. To watch, visit ESPN+ or listen on 570 WKBN.