The most telling statistic from Youngstown State University’s showdown with Duquesne University wasn’t the 173 rushing yards spread out across four running backs.
It wasn’t the 292 passing yards from senior quarterback Kurt Hess. It wasn’t even the nearly 10 fewer minutes of possession that the Penguins had than the Dukes.
The most telling statistic was the four turnovers that YSU forced in their 59-17 win over the Dukes (1-2).
“Coach [Joe] Tresey and Coach [Glenn] Davis stressed turnovers all week. Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers win games, and at the end David Rivers got in there, got a pick six. Fumbles all day… that was nice, but it’s all about turnovers,” said senior cornerback Dale Peterman.
In their first game after losing on the road to a Michigan State University team that nearly upset the University of Notre Dame on Saturday, YSU (3-1) started out slow but found its stride going into conference play.
“We came out a little sluggish, which we can’t have, especially coming into conference play. It’ll be big getting off to fast starts and keep rollin’ like we did there in the second half,” said tight end Nate Adams, who hauled in a 52-yard touchdown pass from Hess.
Now, the Penguins look toward their Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule, where they play their first two games on the road.
“I don’t have a crystal ball…but I can tell you that we are 3-1. We’re obviously disappointed that we lost to Michigan State, but it’s kind of like the start of a new season,” head coach Eric Wolford said. “I think our team understands the depth of our conference.
“They understand how good our conference is and that’s what our primary focus is; jump out and go on the road against [Southern Illinois University].”
The key to YSU’s success in a schedule that sees them play unanimous No. 1 North Dakota State University and the seventh-ranked University of Northern Iowa is defense. This week, the Penguins defense showed what they are capable of.
“If we want to be able to contend in this conference, our defense has to come out and step up, week in and week out. This week, I felt we did that versus Duquesne, a very good offense in Duquesne,” Peterman said.
Adding to the tough conference schedule is the fact that the Penguins play their first two conference opponents away from Stambaugh Stadium.
“Playing on the road for the first conference game is gonna be big. We gotta go out there and not have a slip up. There’s no room for error in our conference,” Adams said.