By Marc Weems
With Youngstown State University playing on the road at Jacksonville State University for the first time in the playoffs, YSU was able to use its offense to beat JSU 40-24 to advance to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
The fireworks started early when YSU quarterback Hunter Wells threw to wide receiver Damoun Patterson for a 70-yard touchdown with 11:53 left in the first quarter. That put YSU up 7-0.
But not to be outdone, JSU struck right back. JSU quarterback Eli Jenkins, a Walter Payton award finalist, kept the ball and ran from 26 yards to even the score at 7 apiece with 9:29 left in the first quarter.
In YSU’s next drive, running back Jody Webb did all the dirty work. First, he returned the kickoff to the 34-yard line. And four plays later, he scored from 37 yards away to put YSU up 14-7 with 6:45 left in the first quarter.
“I thought our guys executed well while doing good things on both sides of the football,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “They [JSU] fought with us but we are happy to move on.”
After another JSU punt, YSU place kicker Zak Kennedy connected on a 26-yard field goal — YSU led 17-7 with 1:42 left in the first quarter.
With 14:04 left in the second quarter, JSU kicker Cade Stinnett connected on a 34-yard field goal to cut YSU’s lead to 17-10.
After a 50-yard catch by Patterson, YSU was setup for a field goal — Kennedy missed slightly to the right on a 46-yard field goal.
After JSU got a holding penalty after a first down, they were forced to punt.
Two plays later, YSU quarterback Hunter Wells connected with receiver Darien Townsend on an 85-yard catch to put themselves at the five-yard line.
Zak Kennedy connected on a 38-yard field goal to put YSU up 20-10. That was with 5:38 left in the first half.
After the field goal, JSU put together a scoring drive of their own.
Quarterback Eli Jenkins found wide receiver Jamari Hester on a 38-yard touchdown to cut YSU’s lead to just 20-17 with 1:54 to go in the first half. YSU took that lead into halftime.
Just 57 seconds into the second half, Jody Webb scored his second touchdown of the game on a 50-yard run to put YSU up 27-17.
Webb said that the plan was to try and beat them deep early on but then to run the ball heavily. He said they took their shots when they could and it worked out.
Webb had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game and third straight game with two touchdowns.
After a punt by YSU, JSU’s Josh Clemons scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown to cut the lead to 27-24 in favor of YSU with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
After a JSU penalty, YSU running back Martin Ruiz scored on an eight-yard run to put YSU up 34-24 with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
With 7:21 left in the fourth quarter, Kennedy added a 46-yard field goal to put YSU up 37-24.
YSU’s DJ Thomas then intercepted Jenkins at their 19-yard line to set up a field goal.
“Overall, we knew that we had to stop the offense and that Jenkins was a big part of their offense,” YSU linebacker Lee Wright said. “Once we stopped the quarterback run, everything was a little easier.”
Kennedy connected on another field goal, this time from 27 yards out to put YSU up 40-24 with 5:02 in the game.
“I thought overall that our kids played well,” Pelini said. “They came in with a swagger and a confidence and I’m proud of what they did.”
YSU 40 JSU 24
7-0 YSU — Hunter Wells 70-yard touchdown pass to Damoun Patterson (Kennedy extra point good). 11:53
7-7 JSU — Eli Jenkins 26-yard rushing touchdown (Stinnett extra point good). 9:29
14-7 YSU — Jody Webb 37-yard rushing touchdown (Kennedy extra point good). 6:45
17-7 YSU — Zak Kennedy 26-yard field goal. 1:42
17-10 JSU — Cade Stinnett 34-yard field goal. 14:04
20-10 YSU — Zak Kennedy 38-yard field goal. 5:38
20-17 JSU — Eli Jenkins 38-yard touchdown pass to Jamari Hester (Stinnett extra point good). 1:54
27-17 YSU — Jody Webb 50-yard rushing touchdown (Kennedy extra point good). 14:03
27-24 JSU — Josh Clemons two-yard rushing touchdown (Stinnett extra point good). 4:07
34-24 YSU — Martin Ruiz eight-yard rushing touchdown (Kennedy extra point good). 3:44
37-24 YSU — Zak Kennedy 46-yard field goal. 8:04
40-24 YSU — Zak Kennedy 28-yard field goal. 5:02
Passing_YSU, Hunter Wells 10-18-1-290-0. JSU, Eli Jenkins 6-26-1-140-2.
Rushing_YSU, Jody Webb 19-144-2. JSU, Eli Jenkins 25-199-1.
Receiving_YSU, Damoun Patterson 3-158-1. JSU, Josh Barge 2-62-0.
Sacks_YSU, Derek Rivers 1.
Tackles_YSU, Jameel Smith 9-6-3. JSU, Marlon Bridges 8-7-1.