By Marc Weems
With the Youngstown State University football team opening its season with Northeast Conference champions Duquesne University, the biggest question was the Penguins offense.
YSU (1-0) came out with a bang as they scored on a connection from quarterback Ricky Davis to Darien Townsend for 49 yards to give the Penguins a 7-0 lead.
“It’s huge. That’s a goal of the offense, to score immediately, and to go quick. We set the tone early. That got the fans excited and the team excited, and that rolled as the night went on,” Davis said.
After the Penguins first score, the Penguins were able to tack on a 27-yard field goal by kicker Zak Kennedy to put YSU up 10-0.
Duquesne (0-1) was able to add a 43-yard FG from Austin Crimmins on its next drive. From that point forward, the Dukes had trouble keeping pace as the Penguins outscored the Dukes 35-7 for the rest of the game.
YSU outgained the Dukes in total yardage, with 610 yards to 222 yards for Duquesne.
After a tight first quarter, the Penguins were to apply some separation from Duquesne with two big, quick scoring drives. The first drive ended with 14:09 left in the second quarter after Martin Ruiz punched in his only score from seven yards out.
After two consecutive unsuccessful drives from Duquesne, the Penguins were able to cross into the end zone. This time, Darien Townsend caught his second touchdown of the game from Davis, a 36-yard strike, that gave YSU a 24-3 lead.
Davis finished the game with 12 for 16 with 187 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. He also carried the ball 10 times for 74 yards.
Duquesne then followed with a scoring drive of their own. The Dukes were able to score on a pass in the corner of the end zone from six yards out with Nehari Crawford receiving a pass from quarterback Dillon Buechel. This put the halftime score at 24-10.
From that point on, Duquesne was unable to muster any scoring drives for the entire second half, the Penguins outscored them 21-0 in the second half.
Head coach Bo Pelini spoke about the tenacious defense that was flying around all evening to shut down Duquesne’s offense.
“I thought the defense played extremely well. I didn’t like that drive at the end of the half to say the least. I thought overall, it is going to be a good group,” Pelini said. “I thought we really competed on the outside. I think early on, we showed that they [Duquesne] weren’t going to be able to run the football on us consistently and that they were going to throw the football. Our kids really competed and at the end of the day, I thought we did a lot of good things on defense.”
After YSU recovered a fumble by Crawford, the Penguins were able to score on a short drive of 45 yards when Davis threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Stefan Derrick II for a score.
Once YSU put the backups in, quarterback Trent Hosick took over. The Penguins were able to reopen the run game, scoring twice on the ground. Shane Kuhn and Tevin McCaster both punched in short runs for TDs, putting the game far out of reach.
The Penguins’ defense was just as effective as their offense and were able to shut down Duquesne, which averaged 29 points a game last season.
Starting defensive end Avery Moss spoke about the energy from scoring early does for both sides of the ball.
“I think we need to execute some of our plays better. I think we did pretty well but we can always get better,” Moss said. “After Darien [Townsend] scored his first TD that got our defense so excited. Just like when Jody [Webb] tore up North Dakota State last year, it’s just about keeping that energy the entire game,”
Townsend said the team was able to carry over some of its momentum from last season, and said a win in the season opener will give them confidence heading into its game with West Virginia University.
“With the finish we had last year, I think it was a pretty big win and then follow that into the next game,” Townsend said.
YSU 45 Duquesne 10
7-0 YSU Ricky Davis 49-yard touchdown pass to Darien Townsend (Zak Kennedy extra point good). 13:01
10-0 YSU Kennedy 27-yard field goal. 4:44
10-3 YSU Austi Crimmins 43-yard field goal. 1:59
17-3 YSU Martin Ruiz 7-yard touchdown run (Kennedy extra point good). 14:19
24-3 YSU Davis 36-yard touchdown pass to Townsend (Kennedy extra point good). 1:37
24-10 YSU Dillon Buechel 6-yard touchdown pass to Nehari Crawford (Crimmins extra point good). 0:24
31-10 YSU Davis 3-yard touchdown pass to Stefan Derrick II (Kennedy extra point good). 12:37
38-10 YSU Shane Kuhn 1-yard touchdown run (Kennedy extra point good). 14:11
45-10 YSU Tevin McCaster 2-yard touchdown run (Kennedy extra point good). 8:04
Passing_Duquesne, Buechel 15-29-1-188. YSU_Davis 12-16-3-187
Rushing_Duquesne, A.J. Hines 5-19-0, YSU_McCaster 7-107-1
Receiving_Duquesne, Blair Roberts 3-82-0, YSU Townsend 3-91-2
Sacks_YSU, Derek Rivers 1, Avery Moss 1
Tackles_Duquesne, Carter Henderson 10-6-4, YSU Jaylin Kelly 7-6-1