YOUNGSTOWN – The Youngstown State football team scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including two in the final 1:15, to fuel a late-game comeback and defeat Southern Illinois in the final regular-season battle, 28-21, at Stambaugh Stadium on Senior Day.
Senior receiver Bryce Oliver broke the singel-game school record for most catches with 12 and finished the game with 145 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Mitch Davidson complete 24-of-38 passing for 268 yards and two touchdowns.
The NCAA's all-time rushing leader Jaleel McLaughlin rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner.
Hunter Allen finished with five tackles and 1.5 sacks while Marcus Hooker had two interceptions and four tackles.
For the Salukis, quarterback Nic Baker passed for 320 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver D'Ante' Cox had 108 receiving yards and a touchdown while Avante Cox added 91 receiving yards plus a touchdown.
The Penguins, who finish the regular season with a 7-4 overall record and a 5-3 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, trailed the Salukis (5-6, 4-4 MVFC) the entire game headed into the final two minutes of play and scored three touchdowns in the last nine minutes.
Down 21-14, the Guins got the ball back with 3:45 to play in the game after a missed SIU field goal. Luke Hensley made a leaping 29-yard catch to put the Penguins in the redzone. Davidson found Oliver in the endzone to tie the game 21-21 with 1:15 remaining in the game.
The Salukis started their possession deep in their own territory at the three-yard line, and a third-down break up by Troy Jakubec forced the Salukis to punt from their own endzone.
With just under a minute to play, the Penguins began their game-winning drive at the Salukis' 33-yard line. McLaughlin scampered into the endzone for a 22-yard touchdown, putting the Penguins up a touchdown with 35 seconds left to play.
A last-ditch effort by SIU led to Hooker's second interception of the game, the team's third, and the Guins finished in victory formation.
The Penguins were off to a slow start, giving up a 70-yard touchdown on SIU's first offensive play of the game as Baker connected with Cox deep downfield. On SIU's next drive, they capitalized on good field position with another touchdown, taking the lead 14-0 with 8:07 to play in the first quarter.
With 13 seconds left in the first quarter, the Penguins found the endzone for the first time when McLaughlin ran it in from two yards out, making the score 14-7.
The Penguins opened the second quarter with back-to-back sacks on Baker to force a three-and-out, and both offenses stalled in the quarter. The Salukis were stopped in YSU territory with 23 seconds to play in the half when Hooker intercepted Baker at the 13-yard line, keeping the Salukis lead to a touchdown, 14-7, headed into halftime.
The Penguins defense forced two turnovers in the third quarter. The Salukis fumbled the ball at the start of the second half and Allen's recovery gave the Penguins the ball at the SIU 24-yard line. Tyjon Jones cut the next SIU drive short when he intercepted Baker at the YSU 30 with 7:26 remaining in the quarter.
YSU couldn't capitalize on either possession as two attempted field goals sailed wide. Both teams remained scoreless through the past 30 minutes of play, and the Penguins entered the fourth quarter down a touchdown, 14-7.
The Salukis ended the scoring drought with 11:18 to play in the game on deep pass from Baker to Cox for a 48-yard touchdown to increase their lead to 21-7.
YSU answered with a touchdown of their own on a five-play, 85-yard drive culminating in a 48-yard bomb from Davidson to Oliver, making the score 21-14 with 8:43 remaining in the game.