Penguins lose third straight, hurt playoff chances

Freshman defensive end Chavien Nolcox looks on from the sideline in Saturday’s 42-13 loss to South Dakota State University. Photo by Joe Catullo/ The Jambar.

The Youngstown State University Penguins had playoff hopes going into today’s game, but came out of it with uncertainty and despair.

YSU has not beaten South Dakota State University since 2007 and it showed in Saturday’s loss. The Penguins looked flat from the begging of the game.

South Dakota State University had 117 rushing yards in the first quarter alone. The Jackrabbits finished the first half with 224 yards rushing, 153 from junior running back Zach Zenner.  He would finish the game with 198 yards and two touchdowns.

The Penguins lost to the Jackrabbits, 42-13, at Stambaugh Stadium, totaling just 213 yards of offense with two turnovers.

Youngstown State University (8-4, 5-3 Missouri Valley Football Conference) looked very sloppy the first half of play, allowing 312 yards of offense in the first half. YSU was in the red zone twice in the first half.  They converted for a touchdown on one drive and senior quarterback Kurt Hess threw an interception on the other.

The Penguins kept the game close in the first half but just couldn’t keep up with the pace of the Jackrabbits.

Senior quarterback Kurt Hess felt that the offense couldn’t capitalize on opportunities.

“Against a good team like South Dakota State you can’t miss opportunities,” said Hess

The weather also seemed to play a part in the Penguins’ loss. High winds, driving snow and dark clouds made it difficult for head coach Eric Wolford to see players’ numbers at times he said in the post-game press conference.

YSU gained only 39 yards in the second half. The Penguins were outgained by 269 yards the whole game.

Even with three consecutive losses, Hess hopes that Penguins can still make the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

“This isn’t the way we wanted to take care of business, but this is a journey and we’re on a path.” Hess said

Wolford hopes that the selection committee will look more at the strength of the conference more then an individual record.

“One of the positive things we have is we have a strong conference, so we have a high rating,” Wolford said

With YSU losing three straight games, it will be difficult for them to make the playoffs.

The FCS playoff bracket will be announced Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN