YSU drops home opener

The Penguins opened up spring football at North Dakota State University. Photo by Yousof Hamza/The Jambar

By Jordan Boitnott

Last Saturday, the Penguins held their home opener at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins dropped their second game of the season to the University of Northern Iowa 21-0.

The day started off rough when head coach Doug Phillips tripped leading his team onto the field. The day only went downhill from there. After the opening drive, the Penguins were down 3-0. Youngstown State University’s offense was stagnant all day.

The defense played well, holding NIU to 6 points at halftime despite being dominated in time of possession. The first half ended with a bang when redshirt freshman cornerback Troy Jakubec intercepted a pass thrown by NIU quarterback Will McElvain in the end zone, saving a touchdown.

In the postgame press conference, sophomore defensive lineman Vinny Gentile said the morale of the defense is staying strong despite not receiving much help from the offense.

“Our thought process is if they can’t score, they can’t win. We keep getting the ball back to our offense. One of these times it’s going to happen,” he said. “We trust those guys on the other side of the ball from us every day at practice. I know if we keep getting them the ball and keep getting those three-and-outs, keep getting those turnovers, it’s going to turn around.”

YSU came out in the second half looking strong on a drive behind redshirt freshman quarterback Mark Waid. He drove the team down the field into scoring position, but the drive ultimately ended in a missed field goal.

He said the opening drive in the second half showed YSU’s offense has the potential to be great all the time.

“Just believe in the guys. We can prove we can do that every single drive,” he said. “We can prove that we can have the momentum. We can make the plays and when we do what we’re supposed to, positive things happen.”

After the interception and the strong drive to open the second half, YSU was never able to gain any more momentum. The score was 6-0 at the end of the third quarter. NIU would score two rushing touchdowns and a two-point conversion to spread the game out and make the final score 21-0

Phillips said the team needs to focus and get back to work on achieving their first win.

“You go back to work. That’s what I told our young men in the locker room. We got to find a way. We’re going to continue to keep developing,” he said. “I don’t know how much [it’s] X’s and O’s or just getting into a rhythm, or whether it’s having consistency — we talked about that this week.”

YSU’s director of player personnel Tim Johnson was banned from the sidelines for the rest of the season. The Missouri Valley Conference announced the decision Monday after Johnson shoulder tackled NIU’s wide receiver Quan Hampton as he ran out of bounds towards the end of the first half.

The Penguins will defend the Ice Castle again this Saturday at noon against 11th ranked Southern Illinois University.