Youngstown State University beat St Francis University on Saturday night by a score of 52-23 in their final non-conference game of the season. The win moves YSU to 3-1 on the year.
YSU jumped out to an early 14-0 lead to end the first quarter thanks in large part to the stellar play of the team’s defense. The Penguins defense held the FCS leading rusher through 3 weeks Khairi Dickson to just one yard rushing on five attempts in the first quarter. Dickson finished with 157 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown late in the game, but was ineffective for most of the game.
“He was a good running back. A running back is only as good as your offensive line. Second quarter their offensive line was pushing our defensive line back,” Linebacker Dubem Nwadiogbu said
Saint Francis was able to come back and make it a game in the second quarter, outscoring YSU 16-14, but was unable to keep up the pace after halftime.
“Half-time we had to make an adjustment. We got our minds right. Second half we had to come out and stop them, and that’s what we did,” Nwadiogbu said.
Quarterback Dante Nania made his return from an ankle injury that kept him out of last weekend’s game against Butler. Nania completed 11 of 22 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns.
“Ankle felt great,” Nania said. “I defiantly had a lot of balls in the ground… I just got to work on that and get better during the week.”
YSU also had a great day running the football. The team as a whole gained 351 yards on the ground with five players contributing over 50 yards rushing. Running backs Martin Ruiz and Jody Webb were both removed from game with injuries in the third quarter, but they are not expected to miss additional time.
The win against St. Francis marks the end of out-of-conference play, and Head Coach Eric Wolford knows that the opponents only get tougher from here.
“I don’t think anything unless you’re playing a bunch Big 10 teams or something is going to get you ready for our conference,” Wolford said. “I don’t think you could pick a bad football team in our conference right now. One game at a time. “
Defensive end Derek Rivers is also said he is ready for conference play to begin.
“I get real excited. I think all the guys — in there on defense — we were waiting for this time,” Rivers said. “That’s when real play starts.”
The Penguins have next Saturday off before they travel to Springfield Missouri to take on the Missouri State Bears.