By Jordan Boitnott
After a rocky 0-4 start to the season, the Youngstown State University football team was able to finally get its first win against the University of South Dakota in the Ice Castle on homecoming weekend. The Penguins were able to dominate on both sides of the ball in a 28-10 victory. Last Saturday was the first game of the season the Penguins played a non-ranked opponent.
Doug Phillips, YSU’s head coach, said he was very happy and proud of his team after its first win. In his postgame press conference Saturday, he said the team overcame all the obstacles along the way
“I’m just happy for the kids, to go through the year we went through and when you get victory it’s usually, you think of the journey and to know where we came from through the pandemic, through the quarantines, being shut down,” Phillips said. “To be able to go out and get a win for our kids, get a win for Youngstown, get a win for the fans that were in the stands who were incredible, you could hear them. I mean that’s what we work for and I’m just so proud of our kids.”
According to YSU Sports, the defense took control of the game with five sacks and forced three turnovers. Zaire Jones, senior defensive back, said the defense is doing a great job of playing together in his post-game press conference.
“Playing football, man, rush and coverage work together. I know any defensive coordinator always says that. If the pass rush is working, then the coverage is working. If you’re doing both, one in the same, you’ll come out with sacks or turnovers,” he said.
The offense was just as dominant, especially on the ground racking up 303 rushing yards. Running back Jaleel McLaughlin led the way with 166 yards. McLaughlin has impressed in his last three games rushing for at least 122 yards a game. Freshman quarterback Mark Waid had 74 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Sophomore kicker Colten McFadden made two field goals, his longest clocking in at 41 yards. Phillips said one of the keys to winning was the improvement of the special teams unit.
“That 41 yarder is the longest I think Colten has had here at the Ice Castle, so for him to be able to do that. We haven’t been consistent there and to be able to see us be 100% in our conversions and our field goals was great. That part of football depends on a lot of variables,” he said. “It depends on the seven to eight guys protecting up front, great center snap, to the hold, getting the laces you know there is a lot things going, but I thought he had a great week of practice, seeing him go in the game –– we were very happy for Colt.”
The Penguins will play their last home game this Saturday at 12 p.m. against No. 6 ranked University of North Dakota. This will be the first time the teams have faced off since 1962 when the Penguins lost 20-7.