Carbondale, Ill. - The Youngstown State football team picked up a hard-fought 28-20 win over Southern Illinois on Saturday afternoon at Salukis Stadium. YSU overcame a season-high four turnovers to knock off SIU.
With the win, YSU improves to 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the MVFC while Southern drops to 4-6 and 2-5.
The Penguins made things interesting thanks to the turnover bug. YSU had an FCS low five turnovers entering Saturday's game, but had four untimely giveaways at SIU. However, the Guins overcame them to pick up their second straight victory.
QB Hunter Wells returned to complete 11-of-23 passes for 160 yards as Damoun Patterson had seven receptions for 80 yards and two scores while Stefan Derrick had seven grabs for 82 yards. TB Tevin McCaster ran tough finishing with 158 yards on 26 carries.
The Penguins led 21-20 in the fourth quarter before the defense stepped up with a score. DE Justus Reed, who had been out of the lineup since the South Dakota game, strip-sacked SIU quarterback Matt DeSomer at the 27-yard line and scooped up the fumble at the 21 and took it to the end zone for a score with 1:44 left to seal the win.
YSU stopped SIU on fourth down at the Penguins' 45-yard line and a first-down rush by McCaster iced the victory.
McCaster's one-yard touchdown run with 3:13 left in the third quarter came following a short field goal by the Salukis. McCaster opened the drive with a 35-yard run, his longest of the game. However, SIU scored the next 10 points to get within 21-20 on a DeSomer one-yard run and a 29-yard field goal by Nico Gualdoni.
YSU built a 14-7 halftime lead as Wells connected with Patterson on a pair of touchdown passes.
Following a scoreless first quarter, Southern Illinois took a 7-0 lead on a 58-yard quarterback keeper by Matt DeSomer with 10:54 left in the quarter.
But the Penguins answered immediately when Wells threw deep to Patterson on a 48-yard scoring pass just over two minutes later.
Just before halftime, Wells and Davis marched the Penguins 76 yards in 10 plays for the go-ahead score. Wells dumped a pass off to Patterson in the flat who outraced a Salukis defender to the pylon for a 14-yard score with just 27 seconds remaining.
Patterson and Derrick combined for all 162 YSU receiving yards. Derrick had seven receptions for 82 yards while Patterson had four grabs for 80 yards.
In the first half, YSU had 290 yards of total offense while Southern Illinois had 155 on 27 plays. For SIU, 58 of the 155 yards came on DeSomer's touchdown run.
For the game, the Penguins had 436 yards of total offense while SIU had 288. The Guins pounded out 252 on 48 rushing attempts.
The Penguins wrap up the 2017 season next Saturday against Missouri State. Kickoff for the contest at Stambaugh Stadium is set for noon.