Youngstown State didn't want to go into its bye week this way.
The Penguins fell behind on the very first play from scrimmage against Indiana State on Saturday, then allowed four more first-half touchdowns and spent the rest of the day scrambling to come back against the Sycamores.
The Sycamores didn't let it happen, although YSU made it interesting before falling, 37-35, in Terre Haute, Ind.
The Penguins twice got within six points after falling behind 21-0 and 27-7 in the first half, then used a late touchdown drive to pull within two with 1:21 to play. But an onside kick went out of bounds, the Sycamores picked up one last first down and ran out the clock.
YSU came back and made a game of it after a horrible start.
Junior tailback Jamaine Cook ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries.
Sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess passed for 224 yards and two touchdowns, both to sophomore Jelani Berassa.
YSU's tackling. Indiana State running back Shakir Bell averaged 12.2 yards per carry. Yes, the Penguins made some adjustments and did a better job on defense in the second half, but the damage was done.
YSU wasn't ready to play. Second-year coach Eric Wolford said on Tuesday this was a business trip, but the Penguins seemed to miss their wakeup call.
The Penguins haven't won on the road since the end of the 2009 season.
Bell finished with a school-record 256 yards on just 21 carries. He ran for touchdowns of 62, 39, 61 and 51 yards.
The Sycamores' big plays on the ground completely negated the Penguins' huge advantage in time of possession (37:32 to 22:22) and first downs (30 to 14).
Aronde Stanton recovered a fumble and appeared about to return it for a touchdown, but fumbled out of the back of the end zone from Indiana State's 1-yard line for a touchback. The Sycamores regained possession and added to their lead moments later.
The Penguins don't seem ready to contend in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Just like last season, YSU has more than enough offensive weapons with Cook, Hess and some talented receivers. The offensive line is young, but has performed extremely well to allow the Penguins to score on impressive drives and, when necessary, quickly.
After falling behind, YSU offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery used a variation of the hurry-up or no-huddle offense to change the tempo of the game and spark the Penguins' comeback.
But like last season, YSU's defense appears to be significantly behind the offense. Wolford and defensive coordinator Rick Kravitz have turned over the personnel on that side of the ball since arriving in Youngstown, and some new players have made significant impacts.
But the Penguins have just six seniors on the defensive depth chart and three of them play up front. The seniors are starting cornerback Josh Lee, linebacker John Sasson, ends Daniel Stewart and Obinna Ekweremuba and tackle Andrew Johnson. Lee has made just three career starts at cornerback and the only other senior in the group is backup strong safety Scott Sentner.
Eleven freshmen and eight sophomores fill out the defensive depth chart. That means this defense is extremely young. Despite what happened Saturday in Terre Haute, I think it's better than last year's defense.
Wolford's rebuilding project isn't going to come to fruition overnight. But the pieces are in place, despite the terrible start and loss against Indiana State.