Penguins Set to Visit Second-Ranked South Dakota State

Natavious Payne
Natavious Payne

    The Youngstown State football team heads back on the road making a visit to No. 2 South Dakota State on Saturday. Kickoff for the contest between the Penguins and Jackrabbits is set for 3 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Central at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. The game is available on WBCB TV in Youngstown, ESPN+, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (2-3, 1-1) picked up a come-from-behind 17-14 win over Southern Illinois last Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins trailed 14-6 with five minutes remaining in the game before rallying for their first MVFC win.
    YSU led 3-0 on a Zak Kennedy field goal before the Salukis took a 7-3 lead on a five-yard touchdown run by D.J. Davis in the second quarter. The Penguins pulled within one at halftime on a 24-yard Kennedy field goal. With 10:57 remaining, SIU QB Matt DeSomer extended the lead to 14-6.
    However, the Penguins didn't wilt. Down eight ,YSU moved 76 yards in 14 plays and pulled within two points on a one-yard touchdown run by Tevin McCaster. On the two-point conversion, Montgomery VanGorder hit Zach Farrar on a slant to tie the contest at 14 with 4:36 left. The YSU defense forced a quick three-and-out, and, following a short punt, the Guins took over at the SIU 39. The Penguins moved to the Salukis' 13-yard line, and, with the ball at the 17, Kennedy came on to kick the game-winning field goal from 34 yards with just 26 seconds remaining.
    South Dakota State (3-1, 1-1) fought off a comeback bid by Indiana State to earn a 54-51 overtime win over the Sycamores last Saturday at Dykhouse Stadium. SDSU led 42-24 entering the fourth quarter before 24 points by the Sycamores forced a 48-48 tie at the end of regulation. In overtime, Indiana State kicked a field goal on its possession to lead 51-48. But the Jackrabbits' Isaac Wallace scored on a two-yard run for the victory. QB Taryn Christion threw five touchdown passes in the first three quarters of the contest.
    The Penguins beat SDSU in impressive fashion in last year's contest at Stambaugh Stadium. YSU picked up a 19-7 win over the Jackrabbits and had a time of possession of 45:14. The Guins forced two key turnovers in the contest. In the all-time series, SDSU leads 12-7. YSU last won at SDSU in 2014 (30-27), but dropped a 24-10 decision in 2016.

   

Quick Notes
• The fourth-quarter rally against Southern Illinois was the first by the Penguins since beating Eastern Washington in the FCS semifinals in December 2016.
• It was the lowest total of points scored by YSU in a win over SIU since 1965 (9-7).
• Through the first five games, Montgomery VanGorder has thrown 10 touchdown passes.
• TB Tevin McCaster has 535 yards rushing on 113 carries and six touchdowns. He is averaging 107 yards per game.
• McCaster scored his 30th career touchdown against Southern Illinois. He became the 10th player in YSU history to score 30 rushing TDs in a career.
• WR Zach Farrar has a team-high 19 catches for 292 yards. He caught his first career touchdown pass against Western Illinois. He hauled in three passes for 36 yards and caught a two-point conversion pass against SIU.
• LB Armand Dellovade has a team-high 43 total tackles. He also has a team-best 26 solo stops.
• DE Shereif Bynum has a team-high eight tackles for losses and four sacks.
• PK Zak Kennedy made three field goals in the win vs. SIU. It was the eighth time in his career that he had made three field goals in a game.
• Kennedy now has 51 career field-goals made, which is one shy of second in school history (52 by Paul McFadden 1980-83).
• Eight different Penguins have caught touchdown passes, and for six of those it was their first career touchdown catch. WR Natavious Payne and TE Miles Joiner went one better; their first career catch went for a touchdown.  The other four who have hauled in their first TD catches are Farrar, Kendric Mallory, London Pearson and Darius Shackleford.
• Six players have started each of the last 16 games - TB Tevin McCaster, C Vitas Hrynkiewicz, OG Gavin Wiggins, LB Armand Dellovade, DE Johnson Louigene and CB Bryce Gibson.
• Kennedy has made his last 67 PATs entering the game vs. South Dakota State. His last miss came in the second quarter of YSU's playoff win over Wofford in 2016.

Last Game: YSU 17, SIU 14
    YSU picked up a come-from-behind 17-14 win over Southern Illinois last Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins trailed 14-6 with five minutes remaining in the game before rallying for their first MVFC win.
    YSU led 3-0 on a Zak Kennedy field goal before the Salukis took a 7-3 lead on a five-yard touchdown run by D.J. Davis in the second quarter. The Penguins pulled within one at halftime on a 24-yard Kennedy field goal. With 10:57 remaining, SIU QB Matt DeSomer extended the lead to 14-6.
    However, the Penguins didn't wilt. Down eight, YSU moved 76 yards in 14 plays and pulled within two points on a one-yard touchdown run by Tevin McCaster. On the two-point conversion, Montgomery VanGorder hit Zach Farrar on a slant to tie the contest at 14 with 4:36 left. The YSU defense forced a quick three-and-out, and, following a short punt took over at the SIU 39. The Penguins moved to the Salukis' 13-yard line, and, with the ball at the 17, Kennedy came on to kick the game-winning field goal from 34 yards with just 26 seconds remaining.

Last Meeting: YSU 19, SDSU 7
    The Penguins beat the fourth-ranked Jackrabbits 19-7 behind an impressive all-around performance last year at Stambaugh Stadium.
    The Guins never trailed in the contest while amassing 448 yards of total offense. YSU maintained possession for 45:14 of the game while running 86 offensive plays to SDSU's 37.
    YSU took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when QB Nathan Mays scored on a four-yard keeper. After SDSU tied the contest 7-7 following a 10-yard pass from Taryn Christion to Jake Wieneke early in the second, the Penguins had the upper-hand. TB Tevin McCaster scored on a one-yard run with 10:02 left in the second quarter to put the Guins ahead 14-7.
    In the second half, YSU played keep away scoring five points on a safety and a 24-yard Zak Kennedy field goal. YSU had the ball for nearly 26 minutes of the second half. It was the first win over SDSU at Stambaugh Stadium since 2007.

Dellovade Now Sits 15th
    Senior LB Armand Dellovade was credited with five tackles against Southern Illinois. For his career, Dellovade has 278 tackles (168 solos) to rank him 15th in school history.
    Dellovade is just five behind LB James Terry for 14th place (283) and is 22 shy of becoming just the 13th player in school history to reach the 300 tackle mark. Only one player since 2000 has been credited with more than 300 tackles, linebacker Jeremiah Wright (2003-07).
    Against SIU, he moved past current YSU c0-defensive coordinator Donald D'Alesio, who finished with 274 stops between 2010-14.

VanGorder Off to Hot Start
    QB Montgomery VanGorder is off to a hot start in his first year with the Penguins.
    Through five games, he has completed 90-of-165 passes for 1,148 yards and 10 touchdowns .
    Last year, the most touchdown passes by any YSU quarterback was five, and four of those came in one game. His 90 completions are more than last year's high of 75 set by Nate Mays.
    In three of the five games, VanGorder has thrown for three touchdowns. VanGorder has had three TD tosses against Butler, Valparaiso and Western Illinois.
    It is the first time since Kurt Hess in 2013 that a YSU quarterback has thrown for three TDs on three occasions during a year. It has happened three other times since 1999 - Jeff Ryan (four in 1999), Brandon Summers (three in 2008) and Hess again in 2011 (three).

McCaster A 2,000/30 Player
    Senior TB Tevin McCaster has rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 30 touchdowns in his impressive YSU career.
    In 36 games played, McCaster has rushed for 2,270 yards on 470 carries. He scored the 30th touchdown of his career in the Penguins' come-from-behind win over Southern Illinois.
    In his 16 games as a starter, he has rushed for 1,601 yards on 334 carries and scored 19 of his 30 career TDs.
    With a 141-yard rushing performance against Valparaiso on Sept. 15, McCaster eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark in his YSU career.
    He ranks tied for ninth in school history for rushing touchdowns with 30. He is 16th in attempts and 18th in career rushing yardage.

Kennedy Moves Into Second
    Senior PK Zak Kennedy moved into second in school history in points by a placekicker after a nine-point effort against Southern Illinois.
    With 31 points this season - 16 PATs and five field goals - he now has 285 points, which moved him past Mark Griffith (1996-99) and into second place in school history. Jeff Wilkins set the school career mark of 373 from 1990-93 before moving on to having a successful NFL career.
    Last season, Kennedy had 67 points. As a sophomore he scored 96 points, and as a freshman he had 91.
    Kennedy has made 51 field goals in his career and 132 extra points in his four years with the program. He has made his last 67 PAT kicks dating back to December 2016.

McCaster Up For Payton
    Tevin McCaster is one of 25 FCS offensive standouts who have been named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List by STATS FCS.
    McCaster is one of four Missouri Valley Football Conference representatives on the Watch List. Other MVFC standouts on the list include North Dakota State running back Bruce Anderson, NDSU quarterback Easton Stick and South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion.
    This year he has 535 yards on 113 carries and six touchdowns. He had a season-high 166 yards rushing against Butler.
    In his first year as starter in 2017, McCaster rushed for 1,066 yards on 221 carries and scored 13 touchdowns. In conference play he rushed for 803 yards on 171 attempts and scored 10 touchdowns.

Lee Getting Playing Time
    Strong safety Chrispin Lee has made a big impact in the secondary this season. After seeing limited playing time his entire career, Lee has started the past four games at strong safety.
    Against Southern Illinois he had 11 total tackles, nine of which were solo stops. He had his first career sack in the contest against the Salukis. At West Virginia earlier in the year he had a career-high 15 stops.
    This season, Lee has 36 total tackles in five games. In his previous 19 games played, mostly on special teams, he had 13 stops.

Newcomers Step Up at WR
    With little experience returning in terms of pass catchers, the Penguins were looking for someone to step up and lead the way. So far through five games, its been an impressive group effort.
    Newcomer Zach Farrar leads the group with 19 receptions for 292 yards and a touchdown. Farrar has caught at least two passes in each game this season. In the two road games, he has 11 receptions for 218 yards. He had three catches vs. SIU.
    Five other wide receivers have at least six catches through five games. Samuel St. Surin has 12, Kendric Mallory and Darius Shackleford have nine, Natavious Payne has seven and Jermiah Braswell has six. Six different wide receivers have touchdown receptions so far.

Strong Down The Middle
    YSU's offensive line features experienced players in center Vitas Hrynkiewicz, guard Gavin Wiggins and guard Connor Sharp.
    The Penguins feature new tackles this year as they replace four-year starter Justin Spencer and last year's starter Cameron Fraser.
    Redshirt freshman left tackle Dan Becker has started the first five games while Kansas transfer right tackle Charles Baldwin started four at right tackle and junior college transfer Devon Robinson started against Valpo.
    Wiggins has started 36 straight games, Hrynkiewicz has started the past 31 while Sharp made his ninth career start vs. SIU.

Bynum Having Big Year
    Junior DE Shereif Bynum has had a breakout year in his first season as a starter.
    Bynum has 22 total tackles, 14 of which are solo stops. He leads the team with eight TFLs and four sacks.
    In three contests this season he has five tackles - West Virginia, Western Illinois and Southern Illinois. Last Saturday against the Salukis he had a pair of sacks. He also has sacks against Butler and Valparaiso.
    Entering the season, he had four total tackles in his career.

Plenty of Newcomers
    YSU has had plenty of new faces see action so far this season.
    A total of 31 players have made their Penguins debut in the first five contests while 19 players have made their first career starts.
    The Guins who have made their first career starts are QB Montgomery VanGorder, OT Devon Robinson, OT Charles Baldwin, TE Miles Joiner, WR Darius Shackleford, WR Kendric Mallory, WR Zach Farrar, WR Samuel St. Surin, TE Kierre Hawkins, TE Chris Durkin, TE Josh Burgett, SS Terray Bryant, SS Chrispin Lee, NB Will Latham, LB Christiaan Randall-Posey, LB Ray Anderson, FS Devanere Crenshaw, DE Shereif Bynum and DT Wes Thompson.
    Six true freshmen have played this year: WR Natavious Payne, DB Paul French, LB Griffin Hoak, DT DeMarko Craig, DT Dontae Cilenti and TE Jake Benio. Through five games, only Payne will not be able to redshirt.

Dellovade Always Plays Tough
    YSU senior LB Armand Dellovade has been a mainstay on the Penguins' defense throughout his career.
     In 43 career games played, Dellovade has  278 career tackles, 168 of which are solo stops. Impressively, Dellovade has made 41 starts in his 43 games played. The only non starts by Dellovade were his first career game at Pittsburgh 2015 and later in the season vs. Missouri State when the Penguins started a six defensive-back package on the contest's opening snap.
    He has started the 2018 campaign strong recording at least seven tackles in four of the five games. He had 15 stops vs. WIU, he had eight at West Virginia and vs. Valparaiso and seven against Butler. He leads the team with 43 tackles, including 26 solos.
    Last season, he was second on the team with 76 total stops, 40 of which were solos. He also had three sacks.
    As a sophomore he had 105 tackles in 16 games. As a true freshman in 2015, he was credited with 54 total tackles.

Spreading the Ball Around
    In the first five games of the year, the Penguins have had 15 different players catch passes.
    Leading the way is Zach Farrar, who has 19 catches for 292 yards, highlighted by  a six-catch effort at West Virginia.
    WR Samuel St. Surin has 12, Kendric Mallory and Darius Shackleford have nine, Natavious Payne has seven and Jeremiah Braswell has six. TB Christian Turner has 11 receptions after a career-high eight at Western Illinois.
    TBs Tevin McCaster and London Pearson have catches as do TEs Miles Joiner, Josh Burgett and Kierre Hawkins. Other wide receivers with receptions are Ryan Emans, Jake Cummings and Zack Torbert.
    An impressive 12 players caught passes in the game at Western Illinois.

McCaster Moving Up Charts
    Senior TB Tevin McCaster has 2,270 yards rushing in his career to rank 18th in school history. He ranks ninth in school history with 30  rushing touchdowns and 16th with 470 carries.
    He has scored a touchdown in each of the past for games for the Penguins. In 2017, he scored a touchdown in nine games. The only two contests McCaster didn't score in were against UNI and Illinois State. In 2016 he had touchdowns in nine of the Guins' 16 games. In five of the seven games he didn't score in 2016, he had four or fewer carries.
    At South Dakota in 2017, McCaster scored a career-high four touchdowns. Against South Dakota State in 2017, McCaster had a career-high 35 rushes for a career-best 183 yards.
    In 2016 he had 129 totes in the 16 contests (8 per game) and followed that with a 229-carry effort (20.8) in 11 games in 2017. Eight times he had more than 19 carries a year ago.
    This year he has as least 25 carries in a game on three occasions.

VanGorder's Record Breaker
    QB Montgomery VanGorder set three school single-game passing records against Western Illinois on Sept. 29.
    VanGorder finished the game with 418 yards passing completing 33-of-57 passes. In the first half, he was a modest 7-of-15 for 83 yards.
    In the third quarter he was 11-of-18 for 140 yards, and in the fourth period he was 15-of-24 for 191 yards. In total, he was 26-of-42 for 331 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

Preseason Accolades
    Five seniors on the team were recognized as All-Missouri Valley Football Conference or All-American.
    LB Armand Dellovade, TB Tevin McCaster, C Vitas Hrynkiewicz, OG Gavin Wiggins and LS Steven Wethli were named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference's preseason all-league first team. Sophomore CB Bryce Gibson was a second-team preseason all-league pick.
    On the STATS FCS Preseason All-America squad, McCaster was a second-team preseason selection while Wiggins, Wethli and Dellovade were third-team picks.

Schuler Has Been Solid
    Junior punter Mark Schuler has been a key weapon for the Penguins throughout his career. In his career he is averaging an impressive 41.4 yards per punt on 126 attempts.
    At WVU, Schuler had an outstanding game with an average of 43.2 yards per kick on six attempts. He had a long of 56 yards and placed two punts at the WVU one-yard line. He placed three kicks inside the 20 vs. Valparaiso and two inside the WIU 15. This year he has placed seven of his 21 kicks inside the 20-yard line.
    As a sophomore, he played in nine games - YSU did not punt in a game twice - and had 41 punts for an average of 41.6 yards per boot. As a freshman, he was a second-team All-MVFC selection, averaging 42.5 yards per punt on 64 kicks while playing in all 16 games.

Gibson Leads Secondary
    Sophomore CB Bryce Gibson has been the leader of an ever-changing secondary.
    Eight different players have started a game in the secondary with Gibson and DJ Smalls being the only two to have started all five games.
    Chrispin Lee has started four games, Will Latham and Avery Larkin have started three, Devanere Crenshaw has started the past two at safety while Melvin Jackson and Terray Bryant have each started once. Jackson made his first career start vs. SIU. Crenshaw has started the past two games after missing the first three games of the campaign.
    Against SIU, the unit had its best performance of the season allowing just 105 yards passing and 12 completions. It was the first time this year that the Penguins did not allow a passing touchdown in a game.
    Last year, Gibson started all 11 games as a true freshman. The Guins started a pair of seniors in Jalyn Powell and Billy Nicoe Hurst along with sophomore Kyle Hegedus last year. Hegedus tore the ACL in his right knee and was lost for the season leaving YSU without three starters from 2017. YSU's unit led the FCS in fewest passing yards allowed in 2017.

Mays Showed Grit in 2017
    Junior QB Nathan Mays started a team-best five games last season and entered two others on the game's first series following an injury to starter Hunter Wells.
    For the year, he completed 75-of-113 passes for 905 yards and four touchdowns. On the ground, he rushed for 317 yards on 77 carries and added four scores. He started against Central Connecticut, South Dakota, North Dakota State, UNI and Illinois State.
    He was called upon to replace Wells on the opening series twice and led the Guins to wins over Robert Morris and SDSU. Mays has yet to play in 2018.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 136-36 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 26-69.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 164-20-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 139-17 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 160-27 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 86-10-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 190-16 when leading entering the fourth.
• 88-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next:
    YSU returns home to take on South Dakota at Stambaugh Stadium on Oct. 20.