By Nathanael Hawthorne
For the first time since 2012 the Youngstown State University football team has started off 4-0 after picking up a 45-10 win over Robert Morris University.
Overall, the team had very little errors, minus a long run that set Robert Morris up to score early in the first quarter. The Penguins answered back by scoring 31 unanswered points in the first two quarters.
“I thought [it was] a pretty good performance,” Penguins coach Bo Pelini said. “I thought defensively we played well, and we did a lot of good things offensively.”
For the Penguin offense, senior tailback Joe Alessi led the way for the rushing attack with 146 yards on 14 carries. Alessi also added a 43-yard touchdown run to his credit. All in all the running game was the offensive identity for the team.
They rushed for a combined 257 yards.
In the air, YSU’s offense had 13 completions on 20 attempts while only throwing one interception — the second miscue of the season.
Quarterbacks Joe Craycraft and Nathan Mays combined for 137 yards and one touchdown. Jermiah Braswell was the top receiver on the day with five receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown.
“I think we’ve played well offensively for four weeks, but now we know that competition ramps up and it’s time to get better,” Pelini said.
The Penguins move away from non-conference games and will move into games against the likes of South Dakota State University, North Dakota State University and Southern Illinois University.
Sophomore linebacker Ray Anderson said he believes the team is ready for the challenges of the season coming up.
“We got to keep getting better every day,” Anderson said. “We got to come in and keep working and I feel like we’re ready as a team.”
For the defense they allowed 212 total yards and had one takeaway, giving them 12 on the year.
The biggest story to come out of the defense was that they had zero penalties against them for the whole game, a far cry from what usually befalls the YSU defense. In fact, the team only had one penalty called on them the whole game.
One of the biggest stories on the evening for the Penguins was the special teams unit.
Junior Jake Coates set a YSU record for single-game punt return yardage. The Warren John F. Kennedy Catholic School graduate amassed a total of 133 yards on five returns, including one which was a 63-yard return for a touchdown.
“It’s an honor to hold that record,” Coates said. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
After a month in the season, the team has outscored their opponents 178-74. The team has ran for 1185 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.
Last year, the defense had three interceptions on the whole season. This year they have seven through four games.
The team heads to the University of Northern Iowa to kick off conference play against the Panthers. The Penguins look to keep the undefeated streak alive and improve to 5-0 if they can pull out a win in Iowa.