By Yousof Hamza
The Youngstown State University Penguins football team won in spectacular fashion as they fought in overtime to beat the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals 44-41 in the first game of the season Sept. 2.
Junior YSU running back Jaleel McLaughlin had over half of the offense’s 463 yards running for 242 yards and two touchdowns and received 46 more yards from quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw.
McLaughlin, who transferred to YSU from Notre Dame College in 2020, averaged 8.3 yards a carry and led the team to victory. Highlights of his play include a 72-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 45-yard reception in the fourth quarter to set up the game tying field goal.
“Coach [Terry] Grosetti did a very good job on me,” McLaughlin said. “Our strength and conditioning coach here did a great job pushing us over the summer, and pushing me, you know, single handedly and trying to get the best out of me every single day he could.”
A scrambling Crenshaw threw a checkdown pass to McLaughlin that he then took for 45 yards to the Cardinals 23-yard line to set up the game tying field goal. Colt McFadden then kicked the 41-yard game tying field goal with two seconds left on the clock.
“You approach it like any kick, it was just the preparation that our coaches have put me through, the challenging scenarios, they truly prepared me for moments like those,” McFadden said.
He said he did his parents proud by continuing the McFadden legacy at YSU. His brother Connor and his father Paul both kicked at YSU. Paul McFadden also kicked for several years in the NFL and is now the president of the YSU Foundation.
Crenshaw played well in his first career start and went 9-12 passing with 112 yards and a touchdown. On the ground he had 20 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
“He [Crenshaw] decided, ‘I’m going to score a touchdown here.’ Just to see that type of leadership from a young man,” head coach Doug Phillips said. “We know, it’s a process, you have a redshirt freshman, it was his first start, got zero reps in the spring, so you know there may be … some mistakes.”
Crenshaw is a redshirt freshman from Pickerington Central High School in Pickerington, Ohio. He won two Division-I state championships and had a 39-5 career record in high school.
Phillips said they want everyone to get the ball, but sometimes there are more important things than just getting the ball.
“You’re getting them to believe and be selfless. Jaleel said it best in the locker room, how many wide receivers were blocking downfield today when he had those runs, quarterback was blocking downfield,” Phillips said. “But the selflessness that when you don’t have the ball what you need to do without it. And that was a big emphasis this week that we needed to block, we needed to have a body on a body.”
On the defensive side of the ball, YSU allowed 490 yards of offense with 352 yards in the air. D’Marco Augustin and Jordan White led the team in tackles with seven each. Defensive back Keyon Martin had three pass breakups. All-Conference linebacker Grant Dixon was always near the action and had six tackles.
Despite some penalties and rough stops, the Penguins persevered. Returner London Pearson muffed a kickoff return in the third quarter which led to a shift in momentum. The Penguins went three-and-out after starting the drive on their five yard line. The Cardinals took the lead for the first time on their next drive after YSU punted the ball out of bounds at their 34-yard line.
The Penguins were able to overcome this hurdle and ultimately tied it up with two seconds left in the regulation after McFadden’s kick.
Phillps thanked the support of the fans in the stands and stressed the impact the community support has on the team.