YSU wins thriller in Pelini home debut

YSU wins thriller in Pelini home debut

 YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WYTV)-The No. 17 Youngstown State football team scored three touchdowns in the second half and overtime to fight off a scrappy Robert Morris team for a 21-14 victory on a rainy Saturday evening at Stambaugh Stadium.

With the win, the Penguins improve to 1-1 while the Colonials fall to 0-2.

YSU never led until the overtime period overcoming a 7-0 halftime deficit and a 14-7 fourth-quarter deficit. The Penguins tied the game early in third quarter on a Martin Ruiz scoring run and in the fourth, Shane Kuhn’s first career touchdown reception tied the game at 14.

In the overtime, YSU faced a fourth-and-1 from the RMU two-yard line. The Guins decided to roll the dice and go for it. On fourth down, QB Hunter Wells escaped heavy RMU pressure and hit Harvin for the go-ahead touchdown.

Robert Morris wouldn’t quit as it converted a fourth-and-10 from the YSU 25-yard line when Mathew Barr completed just his second pass of the game for a 13-yard pickup to Jordan Blackmon. The Colonials were stuffed on a third-and-3 as LeRoy Alexander lowered the boom on Rameses Owens for no gain. On fourth down, Derek Rivers sacked Barr for an eight-yard loss to end the evening.

Jody Webb and Ruiz ran for 99 and 95 yards, respectively, and Ruiz had a touchdown run in the third quarter. Ruiz became the 12th YSU player to run for 2,500 career rushing yards and moved into a tie for 10th on the career rushing touchdown list.

Rivers led the Penguins defense with a career-high nine tackles, including a sack on the final play of the game. It marked his 19th career sack and moved into second place on the all-time sack list.

Wells completed 11-of-27 passes for 107 yards with two touchdowns, but was 6-of-7 for 54 yards and a pair of touchdowns after halftime.

Andrew Williams had three catches for 46 yards while Harvin had three receptions for 17 yards.

The Penguins’ defense held the Colonials to just 168 total yards and just 16 yards passing

Ruiz carried the load for the Penguins in the extra period rushing four straight times for 18 yards and pushed the Penguins to the Colonials one to set up the Wells-to-Harvin touchdown.

The Penguins defense opened the second half forcing an RMU three-and-out. YSU answered with a five-play, 41-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 7-7 with 10:40 left in the third. On the drive, Ruiz rambled 23 yards on four carries.

The Colonials went in front again with a 14-play, 77-yard drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by Owens. The Colonials converted four straight third downs to extend the drive. RMU converted from four, two, seven and six yards.

The Penguins marched 75 yards in 12 plays and knotted the game at 14-14 when Wells hit Kuhn on one-yard TD pass on fourth-and-one from the one with 7:01 left.

Ruiz began the drive with a 10-yard gain and Harvin rushed for 29 yards to the RMU 36. After another Ruiz run of three, Webb carried eight straight times for 32 yards to get the Penguins to the one and set up the touchdown pass.

Ruiz fumbled on YSU’s second play from scrimmage and Owens rambled 41 yards on the next play to give the Colonials a 7-0 lead with 14:10 left in the first quarter.

The Penguins offense struggled in the first half, converting just 3-of-11 third downs, three three-and-outs and failed on a fourth-down conversion.

Youngstown State outgained the Colonials, 139-65, and ran 16 more plays, 41-25, than RMU.

YSU plays host to Saint Francis (Pa.) next Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.

COURTESY: YSU ATHLETICS

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