For the fourth-consecutive week, the Illinois State football team failed to earn a victory. ISU fell to the Penguins of Youngstown State, 20-6 at Hancock Stadium in the midst of Homecoming Weekend.
ISU did not put points up until the second half and two field goals were all the Redbirds could muster up in this MVFC matchup.
“The same old record with not being able to finish drives, it is frustrating to see that we are not finishing games,” head coach Brock Spack said. “We had that football game but we got into a mode and were not able to stop them from running the ball.”
ISU was 3-for-13 on converting third downs. Although ISU did not commit a turnover, the offense stagnated in forming long drives. Jake Kolbe finished the game throwing 10-for-26 for 134 yards. YSU’s Ricky Davis completed just 33 percent of his passes however he led the Penguins’ rushing attack, compiling 97 yards.
One ISU bright spot on the afternoon came from freshman running back James Robinson. Robinson totaled 103 rushing yards on 14 carries. He out-gained thenext four highest rushing by 68 yards.
“James is an excellent player and he really showed it this afternoon,” Kolbe said. “He is one of the only positives we will take from this game.”
With 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Penguins’ kicker Zak Kennedy nailed a 42-yard field goal to put YSU ahead 3-0.
The Redbirds grasped their first lead late in the third quarter after a second Slattery field goal. ISU did not score for the rest of the afternoon.
On the Redbirds’ initial drive of the second half, Robinson broke free for a 43-yard run to set the ’Birds up for a Sean Slattery field goal.
Although the running game was present, ISU was inefficient offensively, tallying 250 yards.
“It is not acceptable — we have to score. I sound like a broken record, but we just have to finish drives. We have not done that for the past four weeks now,” Kolbe said. “We have to put touchdowns on the board and not field goals.”
On the ground, five Penguins combined for 287 rushing yards on 52 carries.
Through the air, Alvin Bailey reeled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Davis to put YSU ahead, 10-6. Ten minutes later, the Penguins scored once again thanks to a Tevin McCaster one-yard run.
“We played alright in the first half and we kept them scoreless,” ISU defensive lineman Dalton Keene said. “We came out in the second half and kept giving them leaky yards and we did not come out with as much swagger as we did in the first half. I think we could work on communication as well as [being] more consistent all around.”
YSU committed over twice as many penalties as the Redbirds, but it was able to work around those calls when the time mattered most.
Kolbe was sacked six times for a total loss of 29 yards. The two teams combined for 13 punts while three of those were of at least 50 yards.
Illinois State will host Southern Illinois at 6 p.m. Saturday.