By Brian Yauger
“Do it for the seniors.”
That was the sentiment echoed by the Youngstown State University football team heading into Saturday’s game against the 25th-ranked University of Northern Iowa, with the Penguins coming out on top, in a massive 31-10 victory.
“We played good football,” Penguins head coach Bo Pelini said. “We played well, I thought we played well last week and I thought we followed it up. I challenged our team and asked ‘are we the team from two weeks ago or are we the team from last week’. Our approach, our energy was there. We’ve gotten better. We’re playing a lot better football and it’s good to see.”
Tevin McCaster dominated in his last home game as a Penguin, rushing for 136 yards and three touchdowns. McCaster was given the ball 35 times, far more than the eight he was given against North Dakota State University. McCaster rushed for 100 yards or more in each of YSU’s six home games this season.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into this game,” McCaster said. “I just did my job, and to have three touchdowns and over a hundred yards, credit to the offensive line. It’s a special moment, my family is here, friends, it was awesome.”
The Penguins opened the scoring in a big fashion, with quarterback Montgomery VanGorder throwing a 62-yard bomb to Darius Shackleford to give YSU a 7-0 lead after Zak Kennedy’s PAT, with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
VanGorder finished the game throwing 13 completions on 22 attempts with 209 yards and one touchdown. VanGorder averaged 16.1 yards per completion, and 9.5 yards per attempt.
The Penguins defense held strong, limiting the Panthers to a measly 192 yards of total offense compared to YSU’s 401 yards. Senior Savon Smith had one sack for 14 yards, the lone sack for the Penguins defense. The defense also got some good luck to the tune of two bad snaps, setting up key possessions for the Penguins offense.
“We’ve had enough bad bounces, it was nice to see us get a couple breaks,” Pelini said.
The snowy weather conditions didn’t make for good kicking weather, but the offensive line seemed to enjoy the weather.
“From an offensive line standpoint, this is the perfect game,” starting center Vitas Hrynkiewicz said. “Nice cold game, the wind going, under center, we’re running physical plays. I think this went back to ‘what is our perfect offense’ and it starts with being physical.”
Going back to the weather, the conditions didn’t stop Mark Schuler from pinning the Panthers, making them start drives within the 20 three times, including once inside the one-yard line.
YSU closes their season against the Illinois State University Redbirds, but for now the players are going to enjoy the win.
“I’m starving, so if we can get a little food, a couple wings, I’m sure they [the offensive line] are thinking the same thing.” Hrynkiewicz said. “We’ll probably have a huge dinner and give some nice fat guy hugs.”
YSU travels to Normal, Ill. to go against the Redbirds on Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. at Hancock Stadium.
Here’s a thread of the games happenings:
At the YSU game to start my day, going to end it down the road in Boardman for Hubbard and Steubenville.
Buckle up for a long day. pic.twitter.com/AVB8KgmPCh
— Brian Yauger (@_brianyauger) November 10, 2018