By Yousof Hamza
The Youngstown State University football team fell to the Western Illinois University Leathernecks 38-35 despite leading 35-7 in the second quarter and was leading 35-14 at the half.
WIU scored 31 straight points to win the game. The first of those points came off a pass from senior WIU quarterback Connor Sampson, with seven seconds left in the first half. YSU went scoreless during the second half.
“[The] hardest thing is, once you lose that momentum, how do you get it back?” head coach Doug Phillips said.
Junior tailback Jaleel McLaughlin led the YSU offense with 136 yards of rushing and three rushing touchdowns. Redshirt freshman quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw had 134 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.
Crenshaw also went 13-22 passing with 76 yards and an interception. Several of his passes were tipped at the line in the second half.
Both Crenshaw and McLaughlin had over 100 yards rushing in the first half and the two combined for fewer than 100 yards in YSU’s scoreless second half.
Phillips is now 2-8 as head coach and stressed the young staff is still learning and developing.
WIU went into this game winless through three games and YSU held a record of 1-1.
YSU heads to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take on the University of Northern Iowa Panthers at the UNI-Dome Saturday, Oct. 2. YSU has not won at UNI since 1999. UNI currently holds a record of 2-1 and is ranked 17th among FCS teams.
One point of concern going to the UNI-Dome is the unique turf.
“Everytime we go up there everybody kind of freaks out about the playing surface because it’s different, it’s astroturf I guess… to us it’s kind of like carpet,” Senior offensive lineman Dan Becker said.
An important focus going into the games is ensuring every individual player does their best.
“We need to learn to manage success. In the first half of last game we had a loss of success, we were real hot, we lost track of who we were, and that was the outcome of last game,” sophomore defensive back Troy Jakubec said.
Several players have felt good about their practice and are excited to taaake field with more focus.
“We need to stress discipline, we had too many penalties. We got to do the little things right on and off the field because when you go into the environment in which we are going into, a very good opponent, YSU hasn’t been successful there since 1999,” Phillips said.
“We have to be mature and go in there and not think it’s too big for us,” Becker said.
Phillips said the team is feeling optimistic despite going up against a stronger defensive team that has been historically good.