By Chris McBride
Following a loss in overtime last week, the Youngstown State University Football team (3-3, 1-2 in Missouri Valley Football Conference) will have its feet to the fire as it travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa to take on the University of Northern Iowa (3-3, 2-1 in MVFC).
After help from YSU tailback Tevin McCaster run that helped stretch the game to overtime a 36-yard kick from NDSU kicker Cam Pederson handed YSU yet another heart pounding loss in an close 27-24 contest. Their second loss in OT with the first coming with their last being in Pittsburgh.
As YSU Head Coach Bo Pelini’s saying goes, “success lies in the details” as he reiterated in talking about another close defeat.
“We have to keep getting better at those little things, we haven’t reached our potential yet but we have a ways to go and we have to keep pushing to get there,” Pelini said.
On the loss, the Penguins ended their 11-game home win streak and are on a two-game slide coming into its game against UNI.
YSU has faced a tough series of teams since entering conference play having faced the second, fourth and sixth ranked teams in its last three games. YSU has come within six points of a near shutout of the top five MVFC teams. The loss only saw the Penguins drop one spot in this week’s FCS Coaches Poll rankings.
“We lost three games by three points within either the last play or over time so we know those are games we can win we just have to come out and do it,” YSU safety Bill Nicoe Hurst said.
Moving forward, Hurst said not allowing teams to have big plays will factor into helping them win big games down the stretch.
A major factor in controlling big plays will be YSU Guard Gavin Wiggins who assured that the team’s spirit weren’t down coming into this week’s play.
“We know we’re definitely going to have to win out to make the playoffs, we can’t lose anymore,” Wiggins said. “We’re the only team in the top-10 that are 3-3 and that speaks volumes to how tough our schedule is but we know going forward we can’t lose again.”
UNI has the all-time advantage in the series against YSU having notched a 21-8 record.
“Last year, they were probably the best d-line we played. I thought so personally so I know preparation is gonna be key this week,” Wiggins said.
In its last outing against UNI, the Penguins won a defensively sound game against them in a 14-10 victory at Stambaugh Stadium. UNI is coming off an impressive 38-18 road win against South Dakota State University (4-2, 1-2 in MVFC) in which it held SDSU to 52 rushing yards while also managing to force SDSU into three turnovers.
“They’re physical. They’re kind of an up the field team. They play aggressive. They’re aggressive up front and I think they’re a good football team,” Pelini Said. “They’re a well coached team and I think they’ll be a good challenge for us.”
Heading into Saturday, Oct. 21, YSU will face off against UNI in the UNIDome at 2:00 p.m.