YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Martin Ruiz ran for two touchdowns and Zak Kennedy kicked three field goals as Youngstown State took an early lead and held it to beat South Dakota 30-20 on Saturday.
Ruiz ran for two scores in the first half to help the Penguins (3-1, 1-0 Missouri Valley Conference) to a 17-3 lead with 14:11 to go before the break. Kennedy stretched it to 20-3 with a 28-yard field goal as time expired in the half.
The Coyotes (1-3, 0-1) made it 23-13 on a touchdown pass by Chris Streveler with 5:24 left in the fourth but on the South Dakota’s next possession, the Penguins’ Jalyn Powell intercepted Streveler and scored to put it away with 2:37 remaining.
Youngstown State held the Coyotes and quarterback Chris Streveler to just 254 yards in total offense. USD did little until the closing minutes when Streveler threw two TD passes.
The Coyotes came into the game having scored 47, 48 and 49 points in their first three games. But they trailed 23-6 until the 5:24 mark of the fourth quarter.
A Streveler fumble and an interception led to touchdowns. He was 10-for-27 for just 141 yards and ran for 14 yards. He came into the game averaging 115 yards on the ground.
“They are one of the best defensive teams in the (Missouri) Valley and they showed that today,” USD coach Bob Nielson said. “We really struggled getting anything going.”
Ruiz carried 19 times for 65 yards and scored on runs of 1 and 8 yards. YSU quarterback Ricky Davis completed 15 of 23 passes for 281 yards and rushed for 66 yards.
Kennedy kicked two of his three field goals in the first half.
“Our defense kind of kept us in the game,” Nielson said. “We played well against the rush, but unfortunately we gave up a lot of plays through the air.”
USD’s first possession ended with a fumble that Youngstown State turned into a Ruiz 1-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead.
USD’s Miles Bergner kicked a 45-yard field goal with 8:20 left in the first, but the Penguins got field goals of 26 and 28 yards by Kennedy and an 8-yard TD run by Ruiz to go into half with a 20-3 lead.
The only scoring in the third quarter was Bergner’s 29-yard field goal with 4:26 left.
Kennedy connected from 24 yards as the Penguins went up 23-6 with 13:07 to play.
USD tried to mount a comeback late in the game. Streveler finally got the Coyotes’ offense into the end zone twice in the fourth quarter. He threw a 1-yard TD pass to Riley Donovan with 5:24 left and a 23-yarder to Alonge Brooks with 1:34 left.
Trevor Bouma led the Coyotes in rushing with 75 yards on 17 carries and Brooks caught two passes for 56 yards.
Damoun Patterson was one of eight players catching passes for Youngstown State. He had two catches for 86 yards.