By Jeff Brown
Youngstown State University scored 21 unanswered points fourth quarter to rally back from a 10 point deficit to defeat the University of South Dakota 28-17 on Saturday. With the win, YSU moves to 7-2 on the season and 4-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference. USD drops to 2-7 and 0-5 in conference play.
YSU scored first midway through the second quarter after a 34 yard touchdown run by sophomore Jody Webb, but it would be a series of mistakes from here for the Penguins.
On YSU’s next possession freshmen quarterback Hunter Wells was intercepted by USD linebacker John Weesel on a screen pass that was intended for wide receiver Andre Stubbs. USD would capitalize off the turnover on a seven yard swing pass to running back Jasper Sanders to tie the game at seven just seconds before halftime.
On the opening possession of the second half USD recovered a fumble by Wells after he was sacked while dropping back to pass. This would lead to a career long 50 yard field goal by USD kicker Miles Bergner. USD would score again on a one yard touchdown run by quarterback Kevin Earl, giving the Coyotes a 17-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“You don’t very often overcome three turnovers,” Eric Wolford, YSU’s Head Coach, said. “You can’t turn the ball over. That’s something that we talk and emphasis all the time.”
YSU was able to turn it around quickly, on the first play of the fourth quarter Wells found Andrew Williams on the deep ball for a 58 yard touchdown that lowered the USD lead to three, and began to sway momentum in YSU’s favor. Williams had 6 catches for 140 yards. Williams now has over 61 yards receiving in 7 of 8 games this season.
“It was a big play, kind of blew things open,” Wolford said. “We felt like we could get those guys lose and get some big shots.”
YSU’s running backs Martin Ruiz and Jody Webb took over from this point. Webb scored on a 60 yard run on YSU’s next possession to give YSU a 21-17 lead. Ruiz added some insurance with a 2 yard touchdown run with just under three minutes to play. Webb finished the game with 11 carries for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Ruiz rushed for 185 yards on 28 carries and one score.
The defensive line was a force to be reckoned with Saturday afternoon and was led by defensive end Derrek Rivers. Rivers continuously beat double teams on his way to a YSU single game record four sacks, and was the first Penguin to have over three sacks in a game since 2001.
“I know other schools when you have a player doing something like that they sugar coat him or whatever but Coach Sims, I got to give him all the credit because he keeps me going. He doesn’t treat me different from anybody else and he works me hard in practice every week.” Rivers said.
Wolford thinks the come from behind win is something the team can build off of going forward.
“You don’t ever like, as a coach, to have games like that, but I think you need to have games like that. It’s good to see when our backs are against the wall we step up and answer the bell and go out and execute like we’re capable of.” Wolford said.