Penguins Freeze Against No. 1 NDSU

By Nathanael Hawthorne 

The Youngstown State University football team dropped another Missouri Valley Football Conference game against the No. 1 ranked North Dakota State University.

“We got our asses kicked in all three phases of the game,” Penguins coach Bo Pelini said.

After the team’s 59-14 lashing of Western Illinois University, the team knew it was going to be a tough game, but they had a positive mindset heading into the game.

We know what we have to do to beat these guys. … They’re beatable,” senior linebacker Cash Mitchell said in a press conference last Tuesday. 

This game, however, was anything but an easy one. NDSU proved why they’re ranked first overall. The Bison got on top early and the team kept pouring it on — scoring 21 points in both the first and second quarters. 

The Penguins also had a devastating blow to the offensive unit. Senior quarterback Nathan Mays got hit in the backfield and suffered a gruesome ankle injury. 

“My ankle is both dislocated and broken… I’m done [playing football] forever,” Mays said on his injury. 

Despite needing to be on crutches, Mays eventually returned to the sidelines to be with his team.

“I feel for him,” Pelini said regarding Mays’ injury. “He’s a great competitor and it’s too bad. No one wants to end their career like that; that’s a tough one to swallow.”

The Penguin offense was not denied points despite the injury. YSU scored on a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Joe Craycraft to tight end Miles Joiner. That momentum was short-lived, as NDSU returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown — giving the Bison a 42-7 lead going into the half. 

“They were a lot better [of] a football team than us tonight. … We didn’t do anything well. They’re a good football team and we weren’t,” Pelini said.

Photo by Brent Bigelow/The Jambar

Defensively, the team wasn’t there. Pelini said the tackling was horrendous and that, as a defensive coach, the defense was an embarrassment.

“That performance was a joke so give them credit,” Pelini said.

The defense gave up 447 yards in total with 251 of them being on the ground. To add insult to injury, the passing game for NDSU was also a big factor. In the first quarter, the Bison connected on a 69-yard touchdown pass.

With the bad things that came from the game, there were some bright sides to the game as well. The spotlight was on freshman Mark Waid after Mays’ injury and an injury to back-up quarterback Craycraft. Waid led the charge for the offense in the second half, but it was too little too late.

“It felt great to be on the field again,” Waid said. “But we have a lot of work to do as a team and we need to bounce back next game.”

Photo by Brent Bigelow/The Jambar

Waid had more of an impact running the ball, rather than in the air. He would finish with 79 yards on eight attempts and one touchdown.

“We got a hard-working group of guys,” Waid said. “[The loss] doesn’t feel good… it’s a terrible feeling. But like I said we got a hard-working group of guys and we’re gonna come back, we’re gonna work as hard as we can, and we’re gonna get this thing going. … South Dakota is our number one concern right now.”

The Penguins square off against the University of South Dakota next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. in South Dakota.

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