Youngstown, OH. — After a disappointing loss vs USD, the Penguins bounced back in a big way with a satisfying 41-38 walk-off victory against Illinois State.
“It’s about execution, you know we talk about operations, to kick a field goal it starts with the snapper, you got a holder, you gotta protect up front,” said Doug Phillips in his postgame press conference.
With the win, YSU improves to 4-3 and 2-2 in MVFC play while ISU falls to the same. Entering this game, legendary coach Brock Spack was seeking his 100th career win and spent all week preparing for this huge game. “Brock Spack going on 100th win today who’s been in this league for 15 years, he understands how hard it is to win games,” said Doug Phillips in his postgame presser. Luckily, the Penguins were able to hold off coach Spack’s 100th victory for another day and get a much needed win on Homecoming.
YSU got on the scoreboard first after a huge fourth down conversion, which led to a Tyshon King rushing touchdown with 8:33 remaining in the first quarter. The two teams would then both exchange punts before Illinois State’s offense started to click.
At the 1:16 mark in the first quarter, Annexstad connected with Sobkowicz for a touchdown to make the game 7-7. The Penguins wouldn’t waste any time, as Davidson connected with Charleston for a 72-yard touchdown to retake the lead over the Redbirds.
Illinois State responded quickly to knot the game up at 14 with 13:50 remaining in the second quarter. The teams would then exchange blows, making the contest 21-21. Davidson connected with Farthing on a 33-yard touchdown with 8:08 left to play in the first half to make the game 28-21. The firework show continued when Annexstad connected with Sobkowicz once again to tie the game up at 28 heading into halftime.
In the second half, both defenses made necessary adjustments to contain the opposing offense. The Redbirds forced the Penguins to punt on their first drive of the second half which was much needed. However, the Penguins defense would rise up even higher as Jakubec intercepted Annexstad’s pass with 12:29 remaining in the third quarter.
YSU’s offense would then drive down the field and kick a field goal to make the score 31-28. The momentum would swing after a time consuming drive resulted in a touchdown for Illinois State, 35-31 5:58 remaining in the third. The Redbirds defense forced the Penguins to punt and it appeared that Illinois State was going to have its way with YSU’s defense and finish the game. The ‘Guins said not so fast as Dawan Martin got a huge sack on 3rd and 6 with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter to get the ball back to the offense.
YSU would then put together a methodical drive and march down the field to take the lead with 7:57 remaining in the fourth quarter. Illinois State drove down the field on the ensuing possession but wasn’t able to find the endzone and was forced to take the points, 38-38. YSU got into field goal range after a successful four minute drill with a gutsy 4th down conversion. Lastovka drilled the game winning field goal and the whole team rushed the field.
Annexstad finished the day going 23/36 for 238 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Daniel Sobkowicz was Annexstad’s top target, tallying 170 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the ground for the Redbirds, the leading rusher was Mason Blakemore who carried the ball 17 times and gained 128 yards. For the Penguins, Davidson went 16/25 for 203 yards and 4 touchdowns. Charleston was the go to receiver with two catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Tyshon King and Dra Rushton both had big days on the ground, combining for 257 yards and 1 touchdown.
Next week, YSU takes on Missouri State in another MVFC showdown. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
Notes — The offense was very balanced today for the ‘Guins and everything was executed perfectly. There’s always things that can be done better, but an overall A performance. Shoutout to coach Doug Phillips, coach Rothenbuhler, and everyone involved in the weight program for making these boys strong upfront. We absolutely owned Illinois State’s defensive line.
The defense overall struggled today and wasn’t very effective in the first half. In the secondary, Blake and Castleberry were substituted in and made a huge difference. Lenton and Hooker are the two true safeties on this team, hopefully Hooker is okay after a scary injury. Jones thrived in the move to defensive back today and played well. Shoutout to Jakubec for having a heck of a second half and creating a much needed turnover. One last thing, Annexstad is an absolute stud and might be the best FCS quarterback we’ve seen so far into this season. Illinois State’s offensive line punched our defensive line right in the mouth multiple times and had too many explosive run plays. We needed a wake up call, clean it up next week. I give the defense a C-, mainly because of their ability to battle through adversity today. Our special teams were superior today and the only negative was a stupid roughing the kicker penalty. We need to be more disciplined. Still, B+ grade for Special Teams.