EAST LANSING, Mich. - It was obvious by the first play from scrimmage that Youngstown State quarterback Kurt Hess wasn't nervous.
And if he was, he plays pretty well under pressure.
With YSU backed up on its own 5-yard line, the senior quarterback threw a deep pass down the middle of the field that hit wide receiver Michael Wheary in stride. Wheary wasn't able to hang on as a Michigan State defender punched the ball loose to force an incompletion, but Hess followed it up with another well-placed pass to Wheary on an out route. The play would have resulted in a first down, but Wheary again couldn't handle the catch. The result might not have been what the Penguins were hoping for, but it again showed that Hess isn't afraid of big moments.
"It's fun," said Hess of playing in front of more than 71,000 fans. "If you want to come in here and win a game, steal a game from these guys, you really have to be on your stuff. Preparing all week, I just wanted to make sure I was taking care of the football, being very fundamental, not forcing anything and just giving my team the best chance to win."
Hess finished 11 of 27 for 121 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. For his career, Hess completed 62 of passes 110 (56 percent) for 596 yards six touchdowns and one interception in four games against FBS opponents (Penn State, Pittsburgh and twice against Michigan State).
TOUGH LOSS: Junior free safety Jamarious Boatwright may be lost for the season after a knee injury suffered in the second quarter.
"He's probably going to be out for the year with an ACL (tear)," YSU coach Eric Wolford said after the game. "It's the second time he's done it. It's unfortunate."
Boatwright didn't start but played extensively in the first three games.
RUIZ SHINES: Eric Wolford said early in training camp that true freshman running back Martin Ruiz might be able to help the Penguins this year. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Ruiz has done just that.
Ruiz scored two touchdowns and led YSU in both rushing (36) and receiving yards (47) against Michigan State.
"It felt good," said Ruiz, a native of Tampa, Fla. "Going in front of 70,000 people against a Big Ten team, it felt real good."
Ruiz's first TD, a 5-yard run, cut the Spartans lead to 21-10 and got YSU back in the game. The second came on a crossing route over the middle in which he darted down the sideline and dove into the end zone. The game was out of hand at that point, however.
Ruiz finished with team-highs in catches (4) and carries (11).
"He's not scared," Wolford said. "That's one thing I saw today: Martin Ruiz was not scared by the arena."
ROUGH DAY FOR 'D': A defense that enjoyed a solid start to the year, holding their first two opponents to 23 points, was gashed by a MSU offense that came in struggling.
The Spartans didn't throw a touchdown pass in the first two games of the season, but sophomore Connor Cook, a Walsh Jesuit High School product In his second career starter, tossed four touchdowns in the first half. He finished 15 of 22 for 202 yards and four TDs.
"We couldn't stop a slant all day," Wolford said. "The biggest thing I saw is they have some mismatches. They've got some good receivers, and when those guys catch the football and run the right routes, (the quarterbacks) can put it on the money."
HIT OF THE DAY: The best hit of game (for the Penguins at least) came on a third-and-2 play from the Penguins' 6-yard line. YSU linebacker Terry Johnson busted through the MSU line untouched and leveled Spartan running back Riley Bullough with a perfect form tackle.