Hess, Kline earn Jambar Player of the Week honors

For the second time this season, Youngstown State University sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess earned Jambar Player of the Week.

Hess led the Penguins to a 56-14 win on Saturday against Missouri Valley Football Conference foe Western Illinois University.

He finished the game with 224 yards and four touchdown passes, tying his own record for throwing touchdowns in a game. He also ran for a touchdown.

The win pushed the Penguins’ record to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the MVC.

In the first play of the game, Hess threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Christian Bryan. He nearly matched that with a 69-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jelani Berassa later in the first quarter.

“It’s just one of those plays that really sets the tone for the game,” Hess said. “The offensive line protected, we had a great fake and Christian ran a great route. It really helps to get off on that start.”

Throughout the season, Hess has completed 128 passes on 198 attempts for a 64.6 completion percentage and 1,750 yards. He has thrown 18 touchdown passes compared to five interceptions and is averaging 218.8 yards per game.

In the MVC, Hess ranks third in total offense and second in passing yards per game and passing efficiency. His 18 touchdown passes lead the conference.

Head coach Eric Wolford said, in Hess’s second season, they have done things a little more offensively than last year, including play action.  

“If you have a decent running game, there’s a lot of opportunity for play-action deep balls,” Wolford said. “We have opened our playbook a little more this year. We have a quarterback who we have some confidence in, and the line’s doing a good job protecting.”

Hess said this is the type of performance the team needed going into the game against the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday.

“I think it’s great,” Hess said. “It’s definitely huge for us. We are playing well and playing confident. But we just have to prepare and keep getting better.”

Along with Hess, senior goalkeeper Nicole Kline also played well this weekend, shutting out Valparaiso University in a 0-0 tie on Friday.

Kline stopped all four of the shots attempted her way for the shutout. It was her second shutout of the season. The first came against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Kline said she felt the team played well, and it was a good showing for the seniors. She added she would have preferred a win to close the season.

For the season, Kline finished with 42 saves and a save percentage of .792 in eight games played. She ranked eighth in the conference in saves and helped the Penguins rank second in saves as a team with 104.

Kline, a 2010-2011 Lester F. Donnell Scholarship recipient, hails from Davie, Fla. She was team MVP and captain at Western High School as a freshman.

She also helped lead the team to the 2005 5A/6A District Championship and was a Regional finalist.

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