Kennedy Headlines Penguins Conference Honors

Mooney grad and YSU kicker Zak Kennedy was named to the MVFC First-Team after a solid freshman season


YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WKBN) – Youngstown State junior defensive end Derek Rivers, junior safety LeRoy Alexander and freshman placekicker Zak Kennedywere named first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference, the league announced on Monday. Eight Penguins were honored for their 2015 performances.

Earning second-team accolades were junior tailback Jody Webband sophomore linebacker Lee Wright. The Penguins who were named honorable mention were TE/FB Shane Kuhn, OT Justin Spencer and LB Armand Dellovade.

Impressive all eight players are underclassman and will return for the Penguins in 2016. In total three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen. Of the eight honored, four did not play for the Penguins last season.

Kennedy and Rivers had record-breaking seasons for the Penguins.

Kennedy set a school record by making 19 field goals, eclipsing the mark of 17. He made a field goal in all but one contest and led the team with 91 points. In MVFC contests he made 14-of-16 attempts, converting at an 87.5 percent clip. He ranked third in the FCS making 1.73 field goals per game. In the regular season, he was one of three FCS kickers to make at least 19 field goals.

Rivers was named first-team All-MVFC for the second consecutive season posting nine sacks and 15.5 TFLs. During the season, Rivers set the school record for career sacks with 26 and has one season remaining with the program. In 2015, he had 52 total tackles, including 37 solos. In conference games he had 36 tackles and five sacks.

Alexander transferred from Nebraska an immediately transformed the YSU secondary into one of the best in the nation. YSU ranked second in the country in fewest passing yards allowed per game after ranking 71st in 2014. He was second on the team with 67 total tackles and 38 solo stops. In conference play he had 49 total tackles. Overall he led the squad with four interceptions.

Wright led the team with 78 total tackles, including a team-high 48 solo stops. He had six sacks on the year, four of which came during conference play. In league games only he had 67 tackles, including 39 solos.

Webb had the best year of his career rushing for a team-high 857 yards on 122 attempts. He had a team-high nine touchdown runs, five of which came in MVFC play. Impressively he averaged 7.8 yards per rush attempt in conference games.

Kuhn rushed for 80 yards on 24 carries and had four touchdowns and caught six passes for 90 yards in a fullback-tight end role for the Guins. Spencer was the only offensive lineman to start all 11 games for the Penguins during the season. Dellovade had a breakout true freshman season registering 54 total tackles and 32 solo stops. He had four sacks as well, all of which came in MVFC play. He had 44 tackles in league games.
First-Team Honorees

#99 PK Zak Kennedy, YSU, Fr., 6-0, 160, Youngstown, Ohio (Cardinal Mooney H.S.)
Set a school record with 19 made field goals in 23 attempts…was 34-of-36 in extra-point attempts…led the team with 91 points…had field goals in 10 of 11 games…in MVFC games was 14-of-16 (87.5 percent) and made 21-of-23 PATs…had 63 points…made three FGs at WIU and against Illinois State…kicked a career-long 49-yarder against the Redbirds.

#11 DE Derek Rivers, YSU, Jr.,6-5, 255, Kinston, N.C. (Kinston H.S.)
Finished with 52 total tackles, including 37 solo stops…had nine sacks and 15.5 tackles for losses…during the season set the school record for career sacks (26) and is only a junior…in MVFC games had 36 total tackles, including 25 solo stops…had six sacks and nine TFLs…also credited with 12 quarterback hurries in league play…had sacks in five league games, including two against South Dakota State…had sacks in seven games during the year.

#3 FS LeRoy Alexander, YSU, Jr., 6-0, 195, Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer H.S./Nebraska)
Started all 11 games at safety…was second on the team with 67 total tackles and 38 solo stops…had a team best four interceptions…had two sacks as well…returned an INT for a touchdown against Pittsburgh…in MVFC games had 49 total tackles, including 28 solo stops…had seven or more tackles on seven occasions…posted a season-best 11 against Illinois State.
Second-Team Honorees
#5 LB Lee Wright, YSU, So., 6-1, 215, York, S.C. (York H.S./Appalachian State)
Started all 11 games at linebacker…led the Penguins with 78 tackles and had a team-best 48 solo stops…had six sacks, four of which came in conference games…in MVFC games had 67 tackles and 39 solos to lead the squad…was credited with 14 tackles in contests with North Dakota State and Western Illinois…had nine tackles against Missouri State and Indiana State.
#20 TB Jody Webb, YSU, Jr., 5-9, 180, Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer H.S.)
Rushed for a team-high 857 yards on 122 attempts and scored a team best nine touchdowns…led the team with 133.4 all-purpose yards per game…in MVFC contests, had 538 yards rushing on 69 attempts and scored five touchdowns…averaged 7.8 yards per rush in conference games…averaged 139.9 all-purpose yards per game in MVFC contests.

Honorable-Mention Honorees

#86 FB Shane Kuhn, YSU, So., 6-4, 255, Vandergrift, Pa. (Kiski Area H.S.)
Rushed for 80 yards on 24 carries and had four touchdowns…caught six passes for 90 yards and two scores…had a season-high six carries for 32 yards against Indiana State…scored two rushing touchdowns against Illinois State…had TD receptions in two games.

#61 OT Justin Spencer, YSU, So., 6-5, 315, Indiana, Pa. (Indiana H.S.)
Only YSU offensive lineman to start all 11 games…started 10 games at right tackle and one at left tackle…the Penguins amassed more than 2,000 yards rushing and passing…graded out as the team’s top offensive lineman in six contests…posted grades above 80 percent in every game…did not allow a sack on the season.

#42 LB Armand Dellovade, YSU, Fr., 6-0, 210, Imperial, Pa. (West Allegheny)
As a true freshman started nine games and played in all 11 at middle linebacker…was fourth on the team with 54 total tackles, including 32 solo stops…had six TFLs and four sacks on the campaign…in MVFC contests had 44 total tackles, including 26 solos…had four sacks, registering sacks against South Dakota, Western Illinois and two at Indiana State.

COURTESY: YOUNGSTOWN STATE ATHLETICS

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