Penguins Get Set to Host Valparaiso in Final Non-Conference Tilt

Zach Farrar
Zach Farrar

    The Youngstown State football team closes out its non-conference slate with a contest against Valparaiso on Saturday. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 2:05 p.m. The game is available on ESPN+, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (0-2) enters the contest with the Crusaders following a 52-17 defeat last Saturday at West Virginia. The Penguins trailed 21-7 at halftime and 28-14 in the third quarter against the Mountaineers, who came into the contest ranked 14th in the FBS.
    In the game, QB Montgomery VanGorder completed 11-of-24 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target against WVU was sophomore WR Zach Farrar, who caught six passes for 135 yards. TB Tevin McCaster rushed for 72 yards on 14 carries and had his first rushing touchdown of the season.
    WVU jumped out to a 14-0 lead before VanGorder found TE Miles Joiner on a four-yard touchdown pass with 9:01 left in the second quarter. The Mountaineers scored in the final minute of the first half and opened a 28-7 lead just 2:41 into the third quarter. McCaster scored on a 13-yard scamper to get the Guins within two touchdowns, but the Mountaineers added two touchdowns in a span of 42 seconds to push their lead to 42-14. PK Zak Kennedy made a 45-yard field goal late in the third, and WVU scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
    Valparaiso (0-1) came up just short in its opener last Saturday at Duquesne. The Crusaders lost 23-21 to the Dukes in Pittsburgh, Pa. Valpo took a 14-7 lead behind two one-yard touchdown runs by Kyle Cartales before Duquesne tied the game at halftime. The Dukes took a 17-14 lead before Chris Duncan connected with Griffin Norberg on 58-yard score early in the fourth quarter. The Dukes scored the game winner with 2:42 remaining on a one-yard A.J. Hines touchdown run.
    This is the third meeting between the teams, the most recent of which was in 2012. The Penguins beat the Crusaders 59-0 at Stambaugh Stadium a week after upsetting Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. The Guins scored 21 points in the first five minutes and cruised to the shutout victory.

   

 

 Quick Notes
• The Penguins have beaten Valparaiso twice in school history - 77-13 in 2011 and 59-0 in 2012 at Stambaugh Stadium.
• TB Tevin McCaster is 27 yards from rushing for 2,000 in his YSU career. McCaster enters Saturday's game against Valpo with 1,973 yards on 400 attempts.
• WR Zach Farrar had a big day against West Virginia with receptions for 14, 5, 15, 40, 19 and 43 for a total of 135 yards.
• In his first career start, Chrispin Lee had a busy night at safety. Lee was credited with 15 total tackles, nine of which were solo stops. In his career he had 16 total tackles.
• DT Wes Thompson had a sack in the contest at WVU. It marked the second straight year that Thompson had a sack vs. an FBS opponent. He had a sack at Pittsburgh in 2017.
• TE Miles Joiner caught a touchdown pass in his second straight contest. He had a four-yard TD grab at WVU and a three-yard score vs. Butler.
• Six players have started each of the last 13 games - TB Tevin McCaster, C Vitas Hrynkiewicz, OG Gavin Wiggins, LB Armand Dellovade, DE Johnson Louigene and CB Bryce Gibson.
• In two games, McCaster has 238 yards on 43 carries and a touchdown. He had a 29-carry effort for 166 yards vs. Butler and added 72 yards at West Virginia.
• Last year, Dellovade, Hrynkiewicz and Wiggins were named second-team All-MVFC while long snapper Steven Wethli was an honorable-mention selection.
• QB Montgomery VanGorder has four touchdown passes in his first two YSU starts.
• PK Zak Kennedy has made his last 56 PATs entering the game vs. Valparaiso. His last miss came in the second quarter of YSU's playoff win over Wofford in 2016.

Last Meeting: YSU 59, Valpo 0
     Youngstown State scored 21 points in just over five minutes to start the game and built a 49-0 halftime lead before polishing off a 59-0 victory over Valparaiso in the home opener at Stambaugh Stadium in September 2012.
    QB Kurt Hess threw two touchdown passes in a 2:07 span, and Jeremey Edwards added a score on a seven-yard fumble return for touchdown as the Guins jumped on top in a hurry, 21-0.
    In the second quarter, YSU scored four rushing touchdowns as Torrian Pace scored from 14 and three yards, Jamaine Cook scored from two yards out and Demond Hymes found paydirt from one yard.
    In the second half, David Brown kicked a 27-yard field goal while Hymes scored on a three-yard run. The defense was able to preserve its first shutout since 2008.
    Pace finished with 146 yards on 14 carries while Hymes had 80 on 11. Hess was 7-of-10 for 138 yards and two scores and departed at the 12:54 mark of the second quarter.

Last Game: WVU 52, YSU 17
    Youngstown State stayed within two touchdowns of high-powered and nationally-ranked West Virginia until midway through the third quarter. However, the Mountaineers scored 24 of the game's final 27 points to pick up a 52-17 win on a rainy Saturday night at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.
    WVU jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Montgomery VanGorder found TE Miles Joiner on a four-yard touchdown pass with 9:01 left in the second quarter. The Mountaineers scored in the final minute of the first half and opened a 28-7 lead just 2:41 into the third quarter.
    McCaster scored on a 13-yard scamper to get the Guins within two touchdowns, but the Mountaineers added two touchdowns in a span of 42 seconds to push their lead to 42-14. PK Zak Kennedy made a 45-yard field goal late in the third, and WVU scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

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.
    He enters the Valpo contest just 27 yards shy of 2,000 for his career.
    In his first year as starter in 2017, McCaster rushed for 1,066 yards on 221 carries and scored 13 touchdowns.

Newcomers at WR
    The Penguins' new-look wide receiving corps has been solid to begin the season.
    Newcomer Zach Farrar had a breakout performance against West Virginia. The sophomore caught six passes for 135 yards against the Mountaineers.
     Kendric Mallory and Farrar combined to catch seven passes for 101 yards in the season opener against Butler. Mallory added a 44-yard touchdown reception in the contest.
    Against the Bulldogs, Samuel St. Surin caught a career-high five passes for 85 yards and a touchdown while Ryan Emans and Zack Torbert had receptions. For Emans, it was the first receptions of his YSU career.
    At West Virginia, redshirt freshman Jake Cummings had the first catches of his YSU career.
    St. Surin, Darius Shackleford and Farrar all made their first career starts vs. Butler. True freshman Natavious Payne has also played in both contests.

TE See New Faces As Well
    Entering the season, YSU's tight end group was low on experience with only Chris Durkin seeing limited time at the position in 2017.
    Early in the 2018 campaign, the position group has played well, led by redshirt freshman Miles Joiner, who has two touchdown catches.
    Joiner caught a three-yard touchdown pass against Butler and added a four-yard score at West Virginia.
    In the first two games, YSU has used Joiner, Josh Burgett, Charles Reeves and Durkin at the tight-end spot. True freshman Jake Benio has played on special teams.
    YSU lost three senior tight ends that were key parts of the program throughout their careers so the position is full of newcomers in 2018.
    Gone from a year ago were highly-experienced players Kevin Rader, Shane Kuhn and Anthony Parente.

McCaster Nears 2K
    Senior TB Tevin McCaster is just 27 yards shy of 2,000 for his YSU career. McCaster has 238 yards on 43 carries this season.
    He would become the 20th Penguin in school history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in his career. The last two Penguins to eclipse the mark were Jody Webb and Martin Ruiz in 2016.
    McCaster has moved into 20th place all time at YSU with 1,973 yards rushing and is tied for 13th with 25 career rushing scores.

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 and transfer right tackle Charles Baldwin have started the past two games.
    Wiggins has started 33 straight games, Hrynkiewicz has started the past 29 while Sharp made his sixth career start at WVU.

VanGorder Takes Reins
    QB Montgomery VanGorder has started the past two games for the Penguins. In the two contests he has completed 29-of-51 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns.
    At WVU, he had 11 completions for 157 yards and a touchdown in his first road start. He also had a season-best 12 rushing attempts. In the opener vs. Butler, he was 18-of-27 for 234 yards and had three touchdown passes.
    He has 39 yards rushing on 14 carries for the campaign.

Lee Makes Most of Start
    Senior Chrispin Lee made the most of his first career start at safety against West Virginia.
    Lee was credited with 15 total tackles in the contest, including nine solo stops. In the first half, he had 10 tackles - five in the first quarter and five in the second quarter. In the second half he had three in the third period and two in the fourth.
    Entering the game, Lee had a total of 16 career tackles, so he nearly doubled his career total in one contest. His previous career high was three, which was in the opener against Butler.

Graduate Transfers
    YSU has added a pair of graduate transfers who will be looking to cap off their collegiate careers on high notes.
    In January, YSU added quarterback Montgomery VanGorder from Notre Dame while tackle Charles Baldwin joined the program after spending his undergrad at Kansas.
    VanGorder was primarily a holder on placement kicks in four seasons at Notre Dame while serving as a reserve quarterback.
    Baldwin transferred to Kansas after spending time at Alabama and ASA College.
    Both started against Butler and WVU.

Spreading the Ball Around
    In the first two games of the year, the Penguins have had nine different players catch passes.
    Leading the way is Zach Farrar, who has nine catches for 158 yards following a six-catch effort at West Virginia. In the opener vs. Butler, Samuel St. Surin caught five passes for 85 yards to lead the way while Kendric Mallory had four for 78 yards.
    Ryan Emans had two catches against Butler while Jake Cummings had two grabs at WVU. Miles Joiner has touchdown receptions in each of the first two games while running backs Christian Turner and Tevin McCaster both have a pair of receptions. Zach Torbert had a single catch against Butler.

Plenty of Newcomers
    YSU has had plenty of new faces see action so far this season.
    A total of 24 players have made their Penguins debut in the first two contests while 12 players made their first career starts.
    The Guins who have made their first career starts are QB Montgomery VanGorder, OT Charles Baldwin, TE Miles Joiner, WR Darius Shackleford, WR Zach Farrar, WR Samuel St. Surin, SS Terray Bryant, FS Chrispin Lee, TE Josh Burgett, NB Will Latham, DE Shereif Bynum and DT Wes Thompson. Three true freshmen have played this year with WR Natavious Payne, LB Griffin Hoak and TE Jake Benio getting snaps.

Kennedy In Top Four
    Senior PK Zak Kennedy ranks fourth in school history in points by a placekicker. Last season, Kennedy had 67 points. As a sophomore he scored 96 points, and as a freshman he had 91.
    This season, Kennedy could move into second place as he trails Brian Palmer by eight and Mark Griffith by 20.
    He has made 47 field goals in his career and 121 extra points in his three years with the program. He has made his last 56 PAT kicks dating back to December 2016.

Dellovade Always Plays Tough
    YSU senior LB Armand Dellovade has been a mainstay on the Penguins' defense throughout his career.
     In 40 career games played, Dellovade has  250 career tackles, 154 of which are solo stops. Impressively, Dellovade has made 38 starts in his 40 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 eight tackles against Butler and eight more at West Virginia.
    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 and as a true freshman in 2015, he was credited with 54 total tackles.

McCaster Moving Up Charts
    Senior TB Tevin McCaster is just 27 yards shy of becoming the 20th player in school history to amass 2,000 yards rushing in a career. McCaster enters Saturday's contest vs. Valparaiso with 1,973 yards on 400 carries. He has 25 touchdowns rushing as well.
    He scored a touchdown in nine games last year to lead the Penguins' offense. 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.
    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.
    At South Dakota, McCaster scored a career-high four touchdowns. Against South Dakota State, McCaster had a career-high 35 rushes for a career-best 183 yards.

Balanced Offense
    In the opener against Butler, the Penguins were almost perfectly balanced on offense with 235 yards rushing and 234 yards passing.
    In the first half, YSU had 194 yards rushing while passing for 93. In the second half, the Penguins threw for 141 yards while rushing for 41.
    YSU averaged 7.1 yards per play with 469 total offensive yards on 66 snaps.
    At West Virginia, YSU had 157 yards passing and 136 yards rushing.
    In two games, YSU has 391 yards passing and 371 yards rushing.

Gibson Leads Secondary
    Sophomore CB Bryce Gibson has been looked upon to lead the new-look group following some drastic changes to the secondary because of injuries.
    In the opener vs. Butler, Gibson had a career-high eight tackles, seven of which were solos, to go along with three pass breakups. Against WVU he had five solo stops and a PBU.
    Last year, Gibson started all 11 games as a true freshman. He finished with 35 total tackles, 24 of which were solo stops. The Guins started a pair of seniors last year in Jalyn Powell and Billy Nicoe Hurst along with sophomore Kyle Hegedus. Unfortunately, Hegedus tore his ACL in his right knee and is lost for the season. YSU's unit led the FCS in fewest passing yards allowed for the season in 2017.
    DJ Smalls and Avery Larkin return after both starting at the nickel spot last year. Larkin started six games while Smalls started the final two of the season. Both players have started the first two games along with nickel back Will Latham.
    Chrispin Lee started at safety against West Virginia while Terray Bryant started at safety against the Bulldogs. Latham, Lee and Bryant had not started prior to this year. Latham had his first career interception vs. WVU while Lee had a career-high 15 tackles against the Mountaineers.

Louigene, Smith Anchor Line
    On the defensive front, seniors DE Johnson Louigene and DT Savon Smith are the leaders. Louigene started all 11 games last year while Smith started nine. Both have started the first two games this year.
     Louigene had 39 stops last year while Smith finished with 27. In their careers, Smith has started 22 games while Louigene has 13.
    Wes Thompson and Shereif Bynum have both started the first two games.
    Senior DT Lamont Ragland has started four games for the Guins in his career. Junior DE Ma'lik Richmond and redshirt freshman Antoine Cook have played in the first two contests as well. Redshirt freshman James Jackson made his YSU debut in the contest at WVU.

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.
    In 2017, Mays started against Central Connecticut, South Dakota, North Dakota State, UNI and Illinois State.
    He was called upon to replace injured starter Hunter Wells on the opening series twice and led the Guins to wins over Robert Morris and South Dakota State.

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 41.9 yards per punt on 114 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.
    As a sophomore, he played in nine games – did not punt against Robert Morris and Central Connecticut – and had 41 punts for an average of 41.6 yards per boot.
    He placed 14 kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line and had five kicks of more than 50 yards on the campaign. In MVFC games, had 38 punts for an average of 41.8 yards a kick.
    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. He boomed 16 punts of more than 50 yards, including a career-long kick of 74 yards against Samford in the playoffs.

Preseason Accolades
    Five veterans on the team have earned their farir share of preseason hype being 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 have been named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference's preseason all-league first team. Sophomore CB Bryce Gibson is 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.

Durden, Rivers Make Rosters
    Two former Penguin defensive standouts made NFL rosters to start the 2018 season - CB Kenneth Durden and DE Derek Rivers.
    Rivers, a third round draft pick by the New England Patriots, is slated to  be a backup defensive end behind Adrian Clayton. Durden has made it on the roster of his second NFL team landing a spot with the Tennessee Titans. He was one of five cornerbacks kept by the team.
   
New Coordinators in 2018
    The Penguins have new coordinators running the offense and defense in 2018.
    Brian Crist, who coached the YSU wide receivers from 2015-17, takes over the offensive play-calling duties this year. On defense, Richard McNutt and Donald D'Alesio will be the co-coordinators during the campaign. McNutt has coached the secondary since 2015 while D'Alesio has coached the defensive line since 2016. Shane Montgomery was YSU's offensive coordinator while Carl Pelini was the Penguins' defensive coordinator.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 135-36 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 26-67.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 162-20-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 138-17 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 159-26 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 85-10-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 189-16 when leading entering the fourth.
• 87-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next
   The Penguins are off next Saturday before returning to action on Sept. 29 when they travel to Western Illinois for their MVFC opener.