TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Freshman Martin Ruiz scored three touchdowns as the Youngstown State football team had to withstood a 75-minute weather delay in the third quarter before disptaching of Indiana State, 35-24, Saturday afternoon and early evening at Memorial Stadium.
Ruiz had scoring runs of 44, 13 and 6 yards to pace the Penguins and free safety Jameel Smith returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown. With the win, YSU improves to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. It is the Penguins' first 2-0 start to league play since 2006. It's also the first time YSU coach Eric Wolford has won back-to-back games on the road.
Indiana State falls to 1-4 and 0-1.
Ruiz finished the game with 141 yards on 23 carries. In all, YSU rushed for 196 yards and had 360 yards of total offense.
YSU came out of the locker room following a brief delay for inclement weather and marched 80 yards in 12 plays to pad its lead. Ruiz scored his third touchdown of the contest from six yards out with 9:37 left in the quarter.
Then both teams had to endure a 75-minute weather delay with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter.
The Penguins took a 35-10 lead when Kurt Hess found Christian Bryan on a 2-yard touchown pass with 8:51 left.
However, Indiana State answered on a 78-scoring play that featured a long pass and lateral sequence with 7:48 remaining, and the Sycamores added another Mike Perish to Sam Levingston touchdown toss from 21 yards with 1:57 remaining.
Indiana State had the first and last scores of the opening half.
The Sycamores opened the scoring when Tanner Fritshle kicked a 23-yard field goal at the 9:35 mark of the first quarter, capping a 14-play, 69-yard march.
Following a 52-yard kickoff return by Andre Stubbs, Ruiz took a handoff from Hess right up the gut and scored untouched on a 44-yard touchdown just 19 seconds following the Sycamore score.
The Sycamores used a 62-yard punt return to get back in the YSU red zone, but on third-and-19 from the 24, Jameel Smith intercepted a Perish pass and, following some nifty blocking up the sidelines, returned it 95 yards for a score with 1:08 left in the first quarter. The return tied for the second-longest in school history.
YSU extended the lead in the second quarter following a five-play, 77-yard drive that resulted in another Ruiz score. Ruiz found the end zone from 13 yards out to put the Guins on top 21-3 with 7:12 left in the second quarter.
Indiana State pulled within 21-10 late in the quarter when Perish connected with Levingston on a 27-yard score with 3:31 left in the quarter.
A strong rain found its way to Memorial Stadium late in the second period as the Penguins took a 21-10 lead at halftime.
In the opening half, Hess became the school's all-time leader in passing yards and total offense, eclipsing marks held previously by Tom Zetts. Hess finished the game completing 14-of-23 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
The Penguins return home to face Illinois State next Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.