Penguins blank Robert Morris
YOUNGSTOWN — After a great second-half comeback performance against the University of Pittsburgh last week, Youngstown State continued its excellent play — especially on defense — in a 30-0 victory Saturday over Robert Morris.
It was the first shutout for the Penguins in coach Bo Pelini’s tenure which is in its third year.
“I don’t think that we played particularly well,” Pelini said. “There are some things we did well. I thought we were a little sloppy. We have a lot of work to do yet. We will take it though.”
Unfortunately, the victory came with a negative as quarterback Hunter Wells exited the game just two plays into the first quarter with a potential shoulder injury.
Pelini said that an MRI on Wells’ throwing shoulder came back negative and that he will be just fine.
After YSU kicker Zak Kennedy hit a 23-yard field goal with 9:17 left in the first quarter, YSU got the ball right back when RMU fumbled on the kickoff. YSU settled for another field goal to make it 6-0 with 6:23 to go in the first quarter.
Robert Morris was unable to get anything going offensively in the first quarter. In the second quarter, it was more of the same for YSU.
Backup quarterback Nathan Mays, who replaced Wells, dove for the pylon 17 seconds into the second quarter for a 13-0 lead. This is the second time in Mays’ career he has had to replace an injured quarterback.
“This was a little different from last year,” Mays said. “I have a seat number two role each day in practice. I was definitely a lot more ready to go. I was ready to step in and lead the team.”
Mays, who said that he always hopes to get into games but not on an injury to Wells, completed 13 of 17 pass attempts for 149 yards. He ran seven times for 63 yards and a score.
Last year, Trent Hosick went down against Indiana State University and Mays led YSU to a 14-10 victory.
Midway through the third quarter, Kennedy hit another field goal. This time from 27 yards away. Kennedy hit three field goals on the day. The last time that happened is when he went 4-for-5 against Jacksonville State University.
YSU’s offensive seemed to click on all cylinders. YSU rushed for 251 yards, 89 apiece for Christian Turner (17 rushes) and Tevin McCaster (23 carries). Alvin Bailey was YSU’s top receiver with five catches for 76 yards.
The real story of the game was YSU’s defense though.
RMU only mustered 147 total yards and just 64 rushing yards. Last year, YSU only gave up 103 yards of total offense to the Colonials.
“We were just missing tackles but other than that we were beating them,” YSU safety Kyle Hegedus said. “Our fundamentals weren’t right. In the second half, our goal was to preserve the shutout and that’s what we did.”
After Kennedy’s third field goal, YSU got on the board early in the fourth quarter with 5-yard pass from Mays to tight end Kevin Rader to make the score 23-0. McCaster put the nail in the coffin with a 10-yard run with 1:29 left to put YSU up 30-0.
YSU hosts Central Connecticut State next week at 2 p.m.