Penguins’ comeback falls short

YSU football

Youngstown, OH (WYTV) – The Youngstown State football team scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter to force overtime, but the comeback ultimately came up short as Indiana State won on a 28-yard field goal in the extra time to win 27-24 on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.

A two-yard touchdown catch by Nate Adams with 4:51 remaining and a four-yard touchdown run by Martin Ruiz with 1:20 left allowed YSU to overcome a 14-point deficit against the Sycamores.

Indiana State cornerback Mark Sewall tipped and intercepted a slant pass on the first play of overtime to end YSU’s possession, and Eric Heidorn’s 28-yard field goal lifted the Sycamores to the win.

Both teams are now 7-4 overall and 4-3 in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.

YSU’s frantic rally came after it fumbled twice in the redzone during regulation. Jody Webb fumbled in the ISU 12 on the first drive of the game, and the sophomore tailback fumbled again on YSU’s first possession of the second half at the ISU 13.

The Sycamores turned the second fumble into a touchdown, their second in as many second-half possessions, to go up 21-10. Indiana State then went up 24-10 with 12:25 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Heidorn.

Youngstown State went 77 yards on 18 plays in 7:27 on the ensuing possession to get within a score. YSU converted four third downs and a fourth down, and Wells connected with Adams on three big catches on the drive. He hit the senior tight end on fourth-and-one at the YSU 44 for a first down, and the pair converted again on third-and-five at the ISU 23. Wells then found Adams on play action on third-and-goal for a two-yard touchdown with 4:51 left.

On the ensuing kickoff, Indiana State set up for an onside kick, and the Sycamores ended up pinned at their own 4 when YSU kicked deep. The Penguins defense forced a three-and-out, and they took over at the Indiana State 41 with 3:00 remaining.

Wells connected with Andrew Williams twice in three plays to get the ball down to the ISU 15, and Ruiz carried the ball the rest of the way over three rushes. His four-yard touchdown got the Penguins within one, and Joey Cejudo’s extra point tied the score and set up overtime.

Buck Logan had a big 12-yard run on second-and-10 from the 25 in overtime, and he ran for six more yards to get the Sycamores down to the YSU 7. ISU took a knee in the center of the field on third down, and Heidron’s game-winning kick followed.

Ruiz finished with 142 yards and two touchdowns on 27 rushes, and Webb had 55 yards on 10 carries. Wells was 11-for-23 with a touchdown and an interception, and Williams was the top receiver with seven catches for 68 yards. YSU outrushed Indiana State 224-110, but it was outgained through the air 353-106. Donald D’Alesio led a valiant defensive effort with 12 tackles, including 10 solos.

ISU quarterback Mike Perish was 29-for-42 for 353 yards and a touchdown, and Gary Owens was on the receiving end of nine passes for 102 yards.

YSU led 7-0 when Ruiz scored from 24 yards out with 7:35 left in the first half, and Indiana State tied the score on a 15-yard pass from Perish to tight end Jamar Brown. The Penguins went up 10-7 when Webb’s 52-yard kickoff return led to a 34-yard Cejudo field goal.

The Penguins conclude the regular season with a road game at North Dakota State on Saturday. Kickoff for the contest at the Fargodome is set for 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

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