CHENEY, Washington (WKBN) – Youngstown State rallied to beat Eastern Washington, 40-38, in the FCS national semifinal at Roos Field. YSU (12-3) advances to the National Championship on Jan. 7 against James Madison in Frisco, Texas.
Hunter Wells connected with Kevin Rader on a 4-yard TD pass with one second left to give the Penguins the lead and beat EWU (12-2). YSU trailed 38-34 with just over four minutes remaining when it received the ball for its game-winning drive.
Tevin McCaster finished with 154 rush yards and three TDs, Jody Webb rushed for 101 yards and Wells went 16 of 24 for 243 pass yards.
McCaster scored on a 12-yard TD run with 6:30 remaining in the fourth to give YSU a 34-31 lead. It was the Penguins’ first lead since going ahead 7-0. But Eastern Washington answered two minutes later with a Shaq Hill 1-yard TD run to regain a 38-34 lead.
That set up YSU’s game-winning drive, which covered 58 yards in 4 minutes and 23 seconds.
The Penguins trailed by seven points entering the third quarter and cut their deficit to 24-20, but EWU took a 31-20 lead on an 18-yard TD pass from Gage Gubrud to Hill.
YSU then cut it to 31-27 early in the fourth quarter when Wells connected with Alvin Bailey for an 11-yard TD pass. Then came McCasters go-ahead TD.
Rewind to the start, YSU lead 7-0 on a McCaster 4-yard TD run. But Eastern Washington took a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Then trailing 17-10 late in the second quarter, YSU muffed a punt and the Eagles recovered. Eastern Washington then executed a halfback pass from Sam McPherson to Cooper Kupp for a 32-yard TD and a 24-10 lead.
But the Penguins cut that lead in half with just 52 second before the break, as McCaster scored on a 20-yard TD run.
YSU has now won six games in a row. Its National Championship foe James Madison beat North Dakota State on Friday night, 27-17.
Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel issued this statement after Saturday night’s Penguin football victory.
“On behalf of everyone at YSU, congratulations to Coach Pelini, his staff and all of the players for their incredible victory out in Washington and for advancing to the National Championship game. Your hard work and perseverance all season long has led you to this point, and we wish all of you well as you seek our fifth national title. All of us in Penguin Nation certainly are Y and Proud!!”
YSU – Tevin McCaster with a 2 yard Touchdown run… 7-0 Penguins
EWU – Roldan Alcobendas with 21 yard Field Goal… 7-3 Penguins
EWU – Gage Gubrud to Cooper Kupp – 4-yard Touchdown pass… 10-7 Eagles
EWU – Gage Gubrud to Kendrick Bourne – 83-yard touchdown pass… 17-7 Eagles
YSU – Zak Kennedy with a 42 yard field goal… 17-10 Eagles
EWU – Sam McPherson with halfback pass to Cooper Kupp – 32-yard touchdown… 24-7 Eagles
YSU – Tevin McCaster with a 20 yard touchdown run… 24-17 Eagles
YSU – Zak Kennedy with a 20 yard field goal… 24-20 Eagles
EWU – Gage Gubrud to Shaq Hill – 18-yard touchdown pass… 31-20 Eagles
YSU – Hunter Wells to Alvin Bailey – 11 yard TD pass… 31-27 Eagles
YSU – Tevin McCaster with a 12 yard touchdown run… 34-31 Penguins
EWU – Shaq Hill 1 yard TD run… 38-34 Eagles
YSU – Hunter Wells to Kevin Rader – 4 yard TD pass… 40-38 Penguins