By Marc Weems
On Saturday, the 15th-ranked Youngstown State University football team beat Southern Illinois University (3-7, 1-6 MVFC) 21-14 to keep their playoff hopes alive in the final home game of the regular season.
YSU (7-3, 5-2 in Missouri Valley Football Conference) ran the ball for 300 yards, with running back Jody Webb running for a career-high 167 yards. That gives Webb eight career 100-yard games.
With just 21 seconds left in the first quarter, YSU running back Tevin McCaster capped off a seven-play 87-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to put YSU up 7-0. That was YSU’s first offensive touchdown since McCaster scored at South Dakota State University on Oct. 29.
“I think the key was just staying in the game mentally,” Webb said. “A lot of times things don’t go our way and sometimes we just get frustrated. This week we focused on overcoming adversity. We showed great progress today.”
Webb said that their struggles seemed as if the end zone was running away from them and it was nice to finally
score on offense.
The score remained 7-0 in favor of YSU at the end of the first quarter.
After SIU’s first possession of the second quarter ended in a punt, YSU went right back on the attack.
YSU quarterback Hunter Wells threw to wide receiver Alvin Bailey for a 10-yard touchdown to put YSU up 14-0 with 11:56 left in the second quarter.
Wells said that this season has been tough for him, but getting the opportunity to be the main guy again was a big deal for him. It was a game they needed to win and he said they were able to execute offensively.
After YSU tight end Kevin Rader had his touchdown taken away because of a penalty, YSU had to punt with 1:53 left in the second quarter.
YSU got the ball back with 39 seconds left in the second quarter and were unable to score when kicker Nate Needham missed his second field game of the game. He missed from 27 earlier and 44 on that attempt.
That left the halftime score at 14-0 in favor of YSU.
Even though the Penguins defense gave up 429 yards, they only gave up 14 points which is the seventh time the defense have given up 20 or less points.
With 3:22 left in the third quarter, Southern Illinois scored on a three-yard touchdown run from running back Jonathon Mixon. That cut YSU’s lead to 14-7 at the end of the third quarter.
With 13:31 left in the fourth quarter, Southern Illinois scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Straub to wide receiver Connor Iwema to tie the score at 14.
YSU used a short field to their advantage as Wells threw to wide receiver Darien Townsend on a 10-yard touchdown. YSU led the game 21-14 at that point with 4:59 left in the game.
With 2:35 left in the game, SIU got one last chance as they got the ball down to six-yard line but were unable to tie the game.
“We had the chance to extend the lead a couple of times and when you get multiple opportunities you need to take advantage of those,” head coach Bo Pelini said. “I saw some positive things and the offense played better today while the defense played just as well.”
YSU won the first game they needed to win in order to get into the playoffs.
YSU plays on the road in the last regular season game of the year when they travel to play Missouri State University in a must win situation.
SIU 14, YSU 21
7-0 YSU — Tevin McCaster one-yard touchdown run (Needham extra point good). 0:21
14-0 YSU — Hunter Wells 10-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Bailey (Needham extra point good). 11:56
14-7 SIU — Jonathan Mixon three-yard touchdown run (Sotiropoulos extra point good). 3:22
14-14 ISU — Sam Straub nine-yard touchdown pass to Conner Iwema (Sotiropulos extra point good). 13:31
21-14 YSU — Hunter Wells 10-yard touchdown pass to Darien Townsend (Needham extra point good). 4:59
Passing_ISU, Sam Straub 24-40-1-366-0. YSU, Hunter Wells 13-25-2-124-0.
Rushing_ISU, Cameron Walter 10-25-0. YSU, Jody Webb 21-167-0.
Receiving_ISU, Israel Lamprakes 7-156-0. YSU, Alvin Bailey 3-38-1.
Sacks_ISU Cody Crider 1. YSU, Avery Moss 1, Jameel Smith 1, Donald Mesier 1.
Tackles_ISU, Chase Allen 9-7-2. YSU, Armand Dellovade 8-8-0.