The Youngstown State University football team suffered a heartbreaking 27-24 overtime defeat to the Indiana State University Sycamores on Saturday afternoon, in a game filled with mental mistakes by the Penguins.
The Penguins jumped out to 10-7 first half lead, but quickly fell behind in the second half—as the Sycamores scored on their opening possession. The Penguins would answer with a nice drive of their own, but the drive stalled in the red zone when running back Jody Webb lost a fumble, his second red zone fumble of the afternoon.
“That’s how you lose football games, turnovers and personal fouls and we did both of that,” senior safety Donald D’Alesio said.
The Sycamores would capitalize on the turnover with a nine play, 73-yard drive. ISU would add a field goal early in the fourth to give them a 24-10 lead with 12:25 left to play.
The Penguins weren’t going down without a fight however. Freshmen quarterback Hunter Wells led the Penguins on an 18 play 77-yard drive, capped off with a two-yard touchdown pass to senior Nate Adams.
Wells had struggled up to this point, only completing four of his 11 passes for 37 yards in the first three quarters of the game.
After a defensive stop, the Penguins got the ball in great field position on the ISU 41-yard line with three minutes left to play. Wells marched the Penguins down the field before handing the ball off to Martin Ruiz for a four yard touchdown run to tie the game at 24 with 1:20 left to play. Ruiz finished the day with 145 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.
On the first play of overtime Wells attempted to throw a slant to wide receiver Andrew Williams, a play that Penguins had great success with in their comeback, but the pass was tipped and intercepted by Sycamore defensive back Mark Sewall. ISU would kick a field goal following the turnover to come away with the victory.
“We’ve been a real resilient team all year,” senior tight end Nate Adams said. “We put our defense in bad situations a lot tonight, so offense will take this one.”
D’Alesio said that this was one of the worst losses he’s endured during his time at YSU.
“Defiantly the most painful loss I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here. That was our chance, but like I said we got one more chance next week.”
The loss drops YSU to 7-4 on the season, 4-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference and puts the Penguins in a must win situation in their final game of the season next weekend at North Dakota State University.
“Yeah I think we gotta win. Can’t leave it up to something else,” head coach Eric Wolford said. “It would be our fourth ranked team. Obviously if you can beat four ranked teams in the number one conference then you could merit an opportunity.”