Penguins show improvement in blowout loss in Morgantown

Chrispin Lee (19) and Will Latham celebrate after a huge stop. Youngstown State lost 52-17. Photo by Marc Weems /The Jambar

By Brian Yauger

“We didn’t play great, we didn’t play awful. Our margin of error wasn’t big and we knew that going in,” Youngstown State University head coach Bo Pelini said on the Penguins peformance.

When it pours, it pours. For YSU, it poured literally and figuratively for the Penguins, dropping a contest to West Virginia University, 52-17.

“That’s a good football team we played,” Penguins head coach Bo Pelini said. “Especially offensively, that’s a really good football team. I knew our margin of error wasn’t big going in, but we hung in there for a while. We had some opportunities early. We created enough third downs, we just couldn’t get off the field, which created some longer drives than I would’ve liked. We had some missed opportunities offensively.”

After heading into the halftime with a maintainable 21-7 deficit, the Mountaineers piled on the points. They tallied four touchdowns and a field goal in the second half. YSU was outscored 32-10 in the second half.

Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier continued his dominant early season play going 21-for-26 for 332 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

Gary Jennings Jr. was the top receiver for WVU. He had 97 yards and three touchdowns including a 33-yard reception to open the second half scoring for the Mountaineers. That increased the lead to 28-7.

On YSU’s side, Montgomery VanGorder finished the day 11-for-24 for 157 yards and a touchdown. He also had 16 rushing yards.

“I love how we fought, we clawed all day,” VanGorder said of his team’s performance. “We hung in there, but it didn’t go our way. I think we’ll be able to take what we learned from this game and it’s going to help us for the rest of the season.”

Tevin McCaster (37) breaks a run to the left side in one of Youngstown State’s best drives of the game. McCaster finished with 79 yards and a touchdown. Photo by Marc Weems/The Jambar

VanGorder went on to mention the Penguins’ interesting game plan to keep West Virginia’s offense on the field.

“They had some long drives, they were running a lot of clock,” VanGorder said. “We thought they were going to come out with a high tempo, so if they were going to run the clock, we were all for it.”

Pelini had praise for VanGorder’s performance, noticing improvements.

“I thought he did some really good things,” Pelini said. “He missed a touchdown early. We had a guy open, but he completed a shorter ball. Overall, I thought he played well.”

Sinking the Penguins offense, according to Pelini, was loss of yardage plays. Combined, Penguins rushers lost 28 yards.

“When we screw up, we really screw up,” Pelini said. “We’ve got to get some things cleaned up on our end – some missed assignments, some miscommunications, some things in the blocking scheme that’s putting us in second-and-long. We’ve got to be more efficient. Most of those things happened in the run game.”

YSU had eight penalties for 65 yards. The Penguins had nine penalties for 97 yards in week one against Butler University.

“Coach Pelini is a really good football coach.” Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He did some things defensively that had us kind of scrambling a little bit early. The kids played hard, his group played hard. We expected that, we got that and I’m glad we got that.”

YSU returns home next week to try and claim their first victory against the Valparaiso Crusaders in the last tuneup before conference play begins. That game starts at 2 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.