The Youngstown State University football team defeated the Butler Bulldogs 44-13 on Saturday.
After performing poorly in the second half against both Illinois and Duquesne, the Penguins went into Saturday’s matchup looking to prove that they can finish a game strong.
The Penguin’s offense exploded in the second quarter, as YSU outscored Butler 28 to 3. Freshman quarterback Hunter Wells completed his first career touchdown pass to senior receiver Jelani Berassa. In the second quarter alone Wells found Berassa two more times in the end zone, making Berassa the first Penguin receiver to record three touchdown passes in a single game since 1979.
Berassa had been physically limited after going through multiple knee surgeries. His impressive performance on Saturday suggests that he has successfully made a comeback.
“Going through what I went through and having a game like this is all worth it. The grind to come back, the rehab and those hard days — it was all worth it,” Berassa said.
Wells started his first collegiate game on Saturday. The true freshman learned that he would be playing after starting quarterback Dante Nania left last week’s game with a sprained ankle. Though he had a rocky start, Wells got into a rhythm in the second quarter.
“He ran the offense and didn’t have to call a bunch of time outs and get things restructured,” head coach Eric Wolford said. “When he throws a touchdown pass it’s like he expects to do it.”
As usual the team relied heavily on sophomore running back Martin Ruiz. The star tailback has recorded at least 100 yards rushing in the first three games to start the season. Ruiz finished Saturday’s game with 21 carries for 110 yards.
The defense has been a question mark all season, and the Penguins’ defensive struggles continued in the first quarter. Butler quarterback Matt Shiltz completed 9 of 13 passes for 128 yards.
The defense tightened up in the second quarter, though, as the Penguins held the Bulldogs to 87 total yards.
“We’ve been talking about finishing all week, and that’s been the main key. I think we came together as a team in the locker room,” senior defensive back Julius Childs said.
YSU takes on Saint Francis University next Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.