YOUNGSTOWN - Saturday night's 38-21 loss against Southern Illinois was eerily similar to the loss the Penguins suffered last week against Illinois State.
Like last week, the Penguins used a lot of Jamaine Cook in the first half. Against the Salukis on Saturday, the senior had three first-half touchdowns. Against the Redbirds a week prior, Cook had four rushing touchdowns in the first half.
In both games, the opposing teams scored the last points of the first half, cutting the Penguins' lead in both games and giving the opposition the momentum going into the locker room.
But the biggest similarity that stands out is the lack of offense the Penguins produced in both games in the second half.
For the third straight game, the Penguins have been shut out offensively in the last part of the game. In the three straight losses, YSU has been outscored 55-0 in the second half.
"We've been shut out on offense in the last three games in the second half," YSU coach Eric Wolford said. "Probably have to, without looking at the film, probably take the same approach we did on defense and probably simplify some things that we can execute. It did not look like the same group that was in the first half."
Saturday night's loss might have been the worst of the three in terms of production in the second half. Cook was limited to 9 yards rushing and Hess was 13 of 25 for 139 yards with two interceptions and a fumble that was recovered for a Southern Illinois touchdown.
The offensive lack-of-production was especially hard since the defense probably played their best game of the year.
"I don't think we played well offensively in the second half," Cook said. "Our defense played a great game. As one of the leaders of the offense, I take responsibility for that."
HESS STALLED IN CHASE: With no touchdown passes on the night, Hess is still three touchdowns shy of the YSU career record. Currently, Tom Zetts holds the record with 51 passes. Hess has 48.
STEPPING UP: Without a doubt, the defense had its best game of the season - especially the defensive line. The front unit, led by defensive tackle Aronde Stanton, limited the Salukis to 71 yards rushing. The only other game this season the Penguins held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing was against Valparaiso (47 yards). Also, the secondary had one of their best performances of the season, only allowing 185 yards in the air. Coming into the game, the defensive backs were allowing 236 yards per game.
BIG PLAYS FOR SALUKIS: The blocked punt SIU had on Youngstown State in the second quarter was the third straight game that the Salukis have blocked a punt, and then returned it for a touchdown. Also, when Anthony Thompson returned an interception for 100 yards at the end of the game, it was the second straight game the Salukis returned a turnover for an 100-yard score. Against Northern Iowa last week, SIU's Bryan Presume returned a fumble for a 100-yard touchdown.
RANDOM NOTES: This is the first time since the 2010 season the Penguins have lost three straight games. In that season, after starting 3-1, the Penguins lost seven straight to end the year. ... Andre Stubbs had his fifth 100-plus all-purpose yard game of the season against SIU. On the night he had 206 yards, 5 rushing, 78 receiving and 121 on kick returns and another 2 from punt returns. ... Christian Bryant's streak stays alive as the sophomore has caught a pass in every game of his YSU career. On Saturday, he had four catches for 35 yards.
UP NEXT: The Penguins will try to get back on the winning side as they travel to South Dakota State. The game is at 3 p.m. Eastern Time and will be broadcast on WFMJ.