Youngstown State knocks Morgan out cold, 56-27

September 19, 1993|By Bill Modoono | Bill Modoono,Contributing Writer

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- They call Youngstown State's Stambaugh Stadium "The Ice Castle," and last night Morgan State found out how chilling it can be.

Displaying an offense that did not thaw before halftime and a defense that could not cool off the Youngstown State Penguins all game, the Bears were defeated, 56-27, before 14,284 last night.

The Bears dropped to 1-2 with the loss, which appeared #F destined almost from the opening kickoff. Morgan State was penalized for an illegal block on the opening kickoff, the first of seven penalties the Bears would commit in the first 15 minutes, ** which contributed to 21 Youngstown points in that quarter as well as another seven on the first play of the second quarter.

"Penalties, turnovers . . . we made the same mistakes we made last year," Morgan State coach Ricky Diggs said. "I was impressed and inspired by our effort, but this is a young football team, and we need to eliminate the errors."

The Penguins, the winningest NCAA I-AA team of the '90s and national champion in 1991, improved to 2-1 with the victory in their home opener.

Morgan State did score before halftime -- Jesse Humphrey caught a 3-yard pass from Orlando Persell with 4:07 left in the second quarter -- but by that time, the score was 35-7 and all that held the crowd in its seats was a postgame fireworks show.

Youngstown State's fireworks were impressive -- especially senior tailback Tameron Smith (148 yards, two TDs) and freshman tailback Charles Perdue (79 yards, 1 TD).

Morgan State did not need to contribute 58 yards on nine penalties, but it did, which added to its misery.

For the game, the Bears wound up with 15 penalties for 110 yards.

After two penalties on their first drive, the Bears punted. They then nullified their best defensive stand of the game with a roughing-the-kicker penalty and were victimized by a 10-yard touchdown run by Smith with 10:16 left in the first quarter.

"We got fortunate at the beginning," Youngstown coach Jim Tressel said. "That was a break for us, and we capitalized on it."

Youngstown scored on its first five possessions and was foiled on only one of six possessions in the first half.

Morgan State was trailing 21-0 when it sealed its fate on the last play of the first quarter. The play would not have occurred if the Bears had not been called for an illegal block as the period ended.

That penalty enabled the Bears to run one more play with no time on the clock, and Morgan's second-string quarterback, Maurice Chase, was intercepted by Youngstown's Lester Weaver, who returned 31 yards to the Morgan State 8-yard line. Perdue ran it in from there on the first play of the second quarter, making the score 28-0.

Morgan State showed life on the first drive of the second half.

The Bears' Matthew Steeple intercepted a tipped Mark Brungard pass on the Youngstown 30, and Morgan State drove in from there, scoring on a 7-yard pass from Persell to Otis Covington, cutting YSU's lead to 35-14 with 11:52 left in the third quarter.

The Penguins came back with a four-play, 60-yard drive, capped by a 36-yard touchdown run by Smith, his third of the game. With that run, Smith became the leading rusher in YSU history with 3,667 career yards.

Morgan State closed the gap to 42-20 as running back Tony Phillips scored on a 3-yard run with four minutes left in the third quarter.

But Persell kept Morgan in the game. He threw 57 passes and completed 30, both records. He also had three touchdowns and was not sacked.

"He [Persell] responded well," Diggs said. "I've been waiting for him to blossom all year.

"This team showed some character in the second half and that can help carry us the rest of the season.

"There's no question we played an excellent football team, but I don't think we played up to our capacity. It could have been a lot closer."

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