By Yousof Hamza
A Youngstown State University football win at the University of Northern Iowa will have to wait again after a 34-7 loss this past Saturday.
YSU has not won at the UNI-Dome since 1999 and has only won twice there in program history.
Following a pre-game speech by head coach Doug Phillips and senior tailback Jaleel McLaughlin, the team walked with confidence to the field.
“I am only one, but I am one, I can’t do everything, but I can do something, and that which I can do, I ought to do, what I ought to fight for Youngstown,” the team said in its pre-game ritual.
While the confidence remained with the team throughout the game, UNI dominated from the start.
YSU redshirt freshman quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw threw a career high of 37 pass attempts but also threw two interceptions. He also fumbled once accounting for all YSU turnovers.
He threw for a career high of 198 yards and also connected to senior wide receiver Jorge Portorreal for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. He also ran for 8 yards on 12 attempts.
McLaughlin, who had dominated in the two other FCS games, only had rushing 12 attempts for 20 yards. In the prior FCS games he averaged 189 yards per game and 2.5 touchdowns.
Phillips said there is still a lot of fight in the team. Players know that it’s a process and they have to work to play complimentary football.
“They’ll play with effort, I think you see that in the second half, when we come out of halftime, there’s two things they’re going to do: they’re either going to put up 70 on you or you’re going to have to fight,” Phillips said.
While reflecting on the positives from the game, Phillips felt the team had a good second half.
“To be able to come out, we’re going to make it easier for our quarterback, he made mistakes but guess what, he’s going to make mistakes, he’s got to dig himself out,” Phillips said. “So to see that last drive, and see him put a touchdown on the board.”
A strong point of YSU throughout the season was their efficiency on fourth down, however at UNI they did not convert either of the two fourth down tries.
“If we could keep him [McLaughlin] in before he got all ramped up we’d have a chance,” UNI head coach Mark Farley said. “You credit the two guys, I don’t know if it’s the scheme, it’s the players.”
YSU’s defense was led by senior linebacker Grant Dixon who had an interception and six total tackles. Senior safety Zaire Jones had four solo tackles and one assist in his defensive showing.
Former Girard standout and sophomore YSU quarterback Mark Waid had five carries for 18 yards and has since entered the transfer portal. Waid played in 12 games in his career at YSU, starting six of those in the 2021 spring season. He had 69 completions in 112 passing attempts for 599 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions.
Going into the next game against Missouri State University, Phillips wants to ensure the team plays complimentary football. He wants players to be doing their part and making sure they act selflessly on the field to move the team forward.
The Penguins play MSU for homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 9 at Stambaugh Stadium, kickoff is at 2:00 p.m.