Game 4 - Aggies 24 - Youngstown State 38
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Eighth-ranked Youngstown State scored on five of its six drives in the first half on Saturday night to take a 17-point halftime lead as the Penguins held off No. 16 UC Davis the rest of the way for a 38-24 nonconference football win before 16,155 fans at Stambaugh Stadium.
UC Davis, which turned the ball over a season-high four times, had its record evened at 2-2 while the Penguins improved to 3-1. It was the Aggies' fourth consecutive game on the road to open the season heading into their Great West Football Conference opener at No. 3 Cal Poly on Oct. 7.
UC Davis trailed 31-21 early in the fourth quarter but cornerback Jason Perry intercepted Aggie quarterback Jon Grant's pass to the sideline at the Penguins' 22 and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown, re-opening the lead to 17 points. The Aggies picked up a 24-yard field goal by Emmanuel Benjamin late in the game to provide the final margin but could get no closer.
Running back Marcus Mason rushed 22 times for 99 yards and a touchdown to lead the Penguins while quarterback Tom Zetts threw for 181 yards and a score. He also rushed for a 23-yard touchdown.
UC Davis running back Alex Garfio accounted for 125 all-purpose yards which included 48 yards on nine carries and 77 yards on seven receptions. He also had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that brought the Aggies to within 31-21. Senior Tony Kays had seven catches for 71 yards while also throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior Kale Turner. Turner had three grabs for 66 yards.
Grant completed 28 of 45 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted three times in the second half. Free safety Jonathan Barsi had 11 total tackles while linebacker Tyler Pringle had 10 stops. Linebacker Marty Hutchinson had 10 tackles to lead the Penguins.
UC Davis outgained the Penguins for the game, 453-379, including 300-53 in total yards in the second half. But it was YSU's first-half production, which featured 326 yards of offense, which gave them the early lead.
"In the first half (YSU) did some good things," said Aggie head coach Bob Biggs. "We're not used to people being able to run the ball on us. They ran the ball well in the first half... But in the second half I thought our defense made some great adjustments and stopped them. We were moving the ball but we just couldn't capitalize."
YSU intercepted Grant on three consecutive drives spanning the final two quarters to help stifle the Aggies' comeback. The Penguins, who did not turn the ball over, also recovered a fumble in the second quarter.
Youngstown State showed an explosive offense during the first half, scoring on five of six drives. The Penguins did it with an offense that controlled the ball for nearly 18 minutes. The yardage was almost evenly balanced between rushing (159) and passing (167) and was headlined by Mason (68 rushing yds) and Gibson Monquantae (65). Zetts, meanwhile, completed 10 of 16 passes as he eluded the Aggies' rush.
A 48-yard touchdown pass from Zetts to Demetrius Ison got the Penguins on the scoreboard less than three minutes into the game while a 21-yard field goal by Brian Palmer gave them a 10-0 lead with 6:01 left in the first quarter.
UC Davis got back into the game on its ensuing drive - capitalizing on a 44-yard kickoff return by Barsi that put it into YSU territory - when Grant found Kays for a 22-yard touchdown pass, the fourth scoring connection between the pair the last two weeks.
A 21-point second quarter by the Penguins helped them stake their halftime lead as they scored on three of their four drives, all three touchdowns coming on the gournd. Gibson scored from 16 yards out with 13:28 left in the half, Mason ran in from five yards with just under five minutes to go, and Zetts kept it on the left sideline and scampered in with 56 seconds left.
The Aggies, meanwhile, went to their bag of tricks to pick up their lone score of the second quarter, scoring on a 38-yard double-pass from Kays to Kale Turner that made it 17-14 with 11:09 to play in the half.
UC Davis, which ran just 28 plays in the first half, gained 153 total yards, including 33 on the ground on nine carries. Grant completed 11 of 18 passes for 82 yards. The Aggies committed their first turnover since the TCU game when Kays was stripped of the ball in the second quarter, leading to a 33-yard drive capped by Mason's score.
UC Davis opened the second half in a strong manner, fashioning an 84-yard drive over 4:34, that was capped by Garfio's 1-yard score that barely broke the plane of the goal line. Garfio was the key player during that drive breaking off a career-long 28-yard run while also catching a ball for seven yards. Grant also had a 25-yard pass to Kays that helped push the ball deep into YSU territory.
The Aggies were able to hold the Penguins to punts in their first drives of the second half and were driving down the field late in the quarter - getting a key 24-yard pass play to Garfio that had a personal foul tacked on - before Grant was picked off by cornerback Codera Jackson at the 21-yard line of the Penguins as YSU stayed in front, 31-21.
The UC Davis defense forced punts on five of YSU's six drives in the second half.
UC Davis will not play again until facing Cal Poly which will conclude the Aggies' season-opening five-game road schedule.
Recap courtesy UC Davis Sports Information Media Relations
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