The Youngstown State Penguins were looking to finish off the season eight and four. YSU went to the Dakota Dome to take on the South Dakota Coyotes this weekend. However, instead of winning their sixth game of the season, YSU falls to South Dakota. The Coyotes lost to the now one win Western Illinois Leathernecks last week.
YSU Falls to South Dakota
First Points of the Game
Youngstown State deferred the opening kickoff and hoped that the defense would make a quick stop. However, South Dakota went 75 yards on seven plays, finishing the drive when Austin Simmons found tight end Connor Herrmann for a 13-yard touchdown making it 7-0.
The Penguins stalled on their first possession, giving the ball back to the Coyotes and Simmons. Simmons found Carter Bell this time for a 15-yard touchdown making it 14-0. A possible upset alert was triggered.
YSU First Touchdown, Struggles
That momentum would fall apart on the next two possessions. South Dakota scored twice. The first was at the end of the first quarter when Austin Simmons did a quarterback draw taking it in for a 10-yard touchdown. The second touchdown was led by Simmons who found Caleb Vander Esch for a 57-yard pass completion. Two possessions later, Travis Theis took it in five yards with the score being 28-7 in the second quarter.
The Penguins scored once more before halftime. It looked like it was going to be another four and out, but a couple of penalties helped the Penguins drive down the field. The drive ended when Craycraft found Braswell once again for a nine-yard touchdown.
The defense stopped South Dakota on their next possession led by Ma’lik Richmond who sacked Simmons which led to a three and out a few plays later. YSU was down by two touchdowns. This hopefully would get them kickstarted again.
That was not the case as Kai Henry rushed it in for a two-yard touchdown making it 35-14 at the half. The second half was just a continuation of the first half.
Second Half Struggles
South Dakota’s next touchdown was led by backup running back Canaan Brooks who took it in from 14 yards out. He had a total of 57 rushing yards during that possession.
Simmons and Henry led their team to the endzone two more times. The second score of the fourth quarter was a Henry one-yard touchdown, while the last touchdown for them was a Brooks one-yard touchdown run.
The Penguins scored one final time. The drive started when running back London Pearson rushed for a 19-yard pickup. Then, a pass interference penalty helped YSU get into the red zone. This was something they had not seen all day.
A few possessions later it was followed with Craycraft finding the other running back Braxton Chapman rushing it in for a one-yard touchdown. In the end, YSU falls to South Dakota 56-21.
One thing to look at during this game for the Penguins was the rotations of all four running backs.
Chapman led the way for the rushing game with 13 carries for 43 yards while scoring on a passing touchdown. Christian Turner got more playing time. He carried the ball six times for 30 yards.
Pearson had five carries for 19 yards. Joe Alessi who started the game only had four carries for six yards. Alessi played at the beginning of the first, but was mostly absent until the second and then didn’t play after that.
Reports early on in the broadcast suggested that the reason Alessi did not play was because of shoulder pain during the week.
Craycraft, who is now the starting quarterback finished 18 of 30 for 246 yards and three touchdowns. He was the only quarterback playing. There were no other rotations.
Braswell had two receptions for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Kendric Mallory was targeted a lot but only finished with four receptions for 49 yards.
South Dakota Stats
South Dakota came into this game ranked 104th in total defense but played like they were ranked in the top ten. They held the Penguins to 312 total yards. In addition, they forced a turnover.
The offense ranked 16th coming into today’s game and showed why they are in the top 20. Simmons finished 13-21 with 180 yards and four touchdowns.
Running backs Henry and Brooks combined for 242 rushing yards. Henry had 13 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Brooks had 11 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. Simmons also had 13 carries for 72 yards and the quarterback draw touchdown.
After the game, they rank 99th in total defense and 13th on offense.
YSU now ranks 57th in total offense and 32nd in total defense.
South Dakota (4-6, 3-3 in MVFC) heads to the FargoDome to take on the number one ranked North Dakota State Bison (10-0, 6-0 in MVFC).
Kickoff is Saturday 3:30 pm on ESPN+
Youngstown State (5-5, 1-5 in MVFC) heads to Memorial Stadium to take on the Indiana State Sycamores (3-7, 1-5 in MVFC).
Kickoff is 1:00 pm on ESPN+ or WBCB the valley’s CW.