By Drae Smith
YSU Football Reporter for Rookery Radio
YSU Football Sideline Reporter for 570 WKBN / iHeartRadio
The Youngstown State football team could never get on track in a 24-3 loss at North Dakota State this past Saturday. The Bison would score the first 17 points of the game after capitalizing on two early YSU turnovers. The first NDSU score came about halfway through the first quarter when tailback Chase Morlock scampered 79 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-1 play.
A lost fumble by YSU QB Hunter Wells would then set up the Bison at the Penguins 25-yard line. Cam Pedersen connected on a 36-yard field goal to put North Dakota State ahead 10-0 with just under four minutes left in the opening period. The Penguins would turn it over again when Wells was intercepted by safety Robbie Grimsley at the YSU 15-yard line. On the next play, QB Easton Stick found Jeff Illies for a touchdown to put the Bison in front 17-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Penguins got their only points of the day with just over eight minutes left in the second quarter when Zak Kennedy hit a 32-yard field goal to make it 17-3. After dominating time of possession in the third quarter, the YSU offense would stall in the red zone again and come away without points after a second missed field goal. NDSU put the game out of reach when Lance Dunn ran seven yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it 24-3.
Youngstown State used both Hunter Wells and Nathan Mays at quarterback throughout the afternoon. Mays was used primarily as a running threat on read-option and quarterback keep plays. The redshirt freshman carried the ball eight times for 26 yards while Wells completed 18 of 27 passes for 222 yards and one interception. Tailback Martin Ruiz led the rushing attack with 47 yards on 14 attempts while Jody Webb added 43 yards on 10 carries. Darien Townsend led the Penguins in receiving with seven receptions for 98 yards.
For North Dakota State, Chase Morlock rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown while Lance Dunn added 76 rushing yards and a score of his own. QB Easton Stick completed six of 12 passes for 89 yards and also ran for 65 yards. The Bison out-rushed the Penguins for the game 240 yards to 92 yards. Jaylaan Wimbush and Matt Plank led the Bison defensively with 10 total tackles each.
Jaylin Kelly led the YSU defense with 13 total tackles while Armand Dellovade added seven. LeRoy Alexander collected five total tackles and also registered an interception. YSU Head Coach Bo Pelini was frustrated with his team’s offensive struggles after the game, saying, “Big changes are coming on offense.” The Penguins have not scored an offensive touchdown in their past two games and need to be significantly better on that side of the ball if they hope to earn an FCS playoff berth.
With the loss, YSU falls to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. North Dakota State improves to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in league play while remaining in a first place tie with South Dakota State. Bo Pelini’s squad now likely needs to win their final two games in order to secure YSU’s first playoff appearance since 2006. The Penguins will host Southern Illinois this Saturday on Senior Day, kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is slated for Noon Eastern.