MACOMB, Ill. - For the second straight week, Youngstown State got a healthy dose of a running game thanks to senior tailback Jamaine Cook.
Cook ran 32 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns, giving him his 19th 100-yard rushing game of his career, coupled with 38 career scores.
The Penguins' run defense held up their end of the bargain by holding Western Illinois to 52 yards in Saturday's 31-7 Missouri Valley Football Conference game.
YSU (6-4, 3-4 MVFC) scored the game's final 24 points as it send Western Illinois (3-7, 1-6) to its fifth straight loss.
The Penguins gained momentum late in the second quarter thanks to Niles McKinley graduate Nick Liste. The YSU punter connected on a 67-yard kick, which was downed at the Western Illinois 2 with 5:06 before halftime.
The YSU defense held the Leathernecks to a three-and-out. Following Western Illinois' short punt, the Penguins drove in for the go-ahead score.
Cook and Torrian Pace each had fourth-quarter TD runs to put the game out of reach.
YSU rolled up 372 yards of total offense, while Western Illinois had 142.
Penguins junior quarterback Kurt Hess was 14 of 22 for 147 yards, while the Leathernecks had 90 yards passing.
It was a struggle for Western Illinois after halftime as it had 14 plays amounting to only 33 yards.
Cook started the YSU scoring as he capped the Penguins' 13-play, 75-yard drive on a 2-yard TD run with 6:06 left in the first quarter, giving the Penguins a 7-0 lead.
Western Illinois' David McDaniel picked off Hess at the YSU 17. Six plays later, the Leathernecks' quarterback Hayden Northern pushed the ball in from a yard out with 2:33 left in the first.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Cook capped a 14-play, 72-yard drive with a one-yard scoring run to put YSU on top 24-7. Pace added the final score of the game scoring from 15 yards out with 4:22 left.
On their first drive of the second half, the Penguins increased their lead to 17-7 on a 31-yard field goal by David Brown. YSU forced a three-and-out by Western to open the half before moving 52 yards in 15 plays before settling for the Brown field goal, which clipped off the left upright and squeezed through the goal posts with 7:33 left in the third.
The Penguins, which hold on to their slim playoff hopes, play their final home game of the regular-season next Saturday against Indiana State (7-3).
Kickoff is set for 2:05 p.m.