MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois was held scoreless in the second half, and Youngstown State pulled away for a 31-7 Missouri Valley Football Conference victory on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 10). The Fighting Leathernecks dropped to 3-7 overall and 1-6 MVFC.
Youngstown took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards on 13 plays, taking up six minutes off the clock and capped it on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jamaine Cook.
The offense was stopped just short on third down in their opening drive and was forced to punt. During the next Penguin drive, David McDaniel stepped in front of a Kurt Hess pass and his 21-yard return put the Leathernecks 1st-and-10 on the YSU 17.
Quarterback Hayden Northern, making his first collegiate start, took off for a nine yard run to open the drive. Nikko Watson was stopped just short of the goal line on 3rd-and-goal, downed inches away. Northern took the QB sneak on 4th-and-inches and broke a scoring drought for the Leathernecks, their first offensive touchdown in four games. Pat Smith's extra point tied the game.
Late in the second quarter Western's defense forced a Youngstown punt. Nick Liste used the wind to launch a 67-yard punt that was downed at the two. Western managed two yards on its drive and Smith was forced to punt into the wind.
The Penguins (6-4, 3-4) took advantage of the short field and needed seven plays to go 25 yards and scored on Hess' 3-yard run in the final minute of the half and lead 14-7. In the second half it was all Penguins.
Western was held to just 33 total yards in the final 30 minutes as Youngstown pulled away. David Brown banked a 31-yard field goal off the right upright to extend the lead to 17-7. Cook scored from a yard out to start the fourth quarter, and then Torrian Pace added a 15-yard TD run for the final margin.
"Youngstown State played four quarters of football better than we did today. We talked about that before the game, four quarters was the goal... Players once again gave it all they had. There are things we needed to execute better than what we did," said head coach Mark Hendrickson. "After the game I told the group we have one more week together. We've got more one more opportunity to practice together and win a football game, and they're excited about that because that means a great deal to them."
The offense was limited to 142 total yards of offense and was 2-of-10 on third downs while Youngstown compiled 372 yards, converting 10-of-18 on third down. The Penguins also dominated the time of possession, 39:52 to Western's 20:08.
In his first collegiate start under center, the true-freshman completed 10-of-18 passes for 90 yards. Five of Northern's passes went to Charles Chestnut for 50 yards.
Sophomore Jonathon Rollins recorded a game- and career-high 14 tackles. Redshirt-freshman J.J. Raffelson matched his season-high finishing with 13 tackles for the third time this season. He also added 1.5 tackles for a loss. McDaniel added nine stops while recording his fourth interception this year, now one off the team lead.
Cook rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 32 attempts. Hess was 14-of-22 passing for 147 yards with an interception. Teven Williams led the Penguins with 10 tackles.
Western closes out the 2012 season next weekend at Southern Illinois. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Western honored
the 18 seniors prior to the game... Northern's rushing touchdown was the first of
his career... McDaniel's interception gave Western 15 this year, the most since
the 2004 team recorded 17 picks. That now ties the defense for 10th place on
the season 'Top 10' list... The two fumbles during the fourth quarter put Western
minus in the turnover margin for the game, and just the second time this year
that occurred... The fumble by running back Trenton Heard marked the first time
since 2010 (vs. Indiana State) that a running back lost a fumble, a span of 30
games... Both teams committed four penalties, Youngtown for 20 yards and Western
for 46... Raffelson is two tackles shy of 100 on the year. He is virtually
assured of now becoming the first freshman in Leatherneck Division I history to
lead the team in tackles, ahead of Rollins by 21 (98-77)... Rollins' previous
career-high was 10 tackles at South Dakota last month... Western lost its fifth
straight game and seven of the last eight... Western ended the year 2-4 at Hanson
Field, and will carry a four-game losing streak to next year... The Leathernecks
debuted the camouflage jerseys in the contest, specially designed by adidas and
purchased by the WIU Foundation Office. Fans can now buy the jerseys for $125
by calling the athletics department office at (309) 298-1190.