YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It was a crazy scene at Eastern Washington Saturday night when Youngstown State won on a last-second touchdown to advance to the National Championship.
But it was also pretty wild back in Youngstown at the MVR — where WKBN spent the entire second half capturing the scene inside the restaurant as the Penguins mounted their comeback and won in dramatic fashion.
“I knew we had it in us the whole time,” said Craig Caputo, a recent YSU grad. “Youngstown, it’s a city where we fight for everything. I had a feeling we were gonna come back and we did.”
“We went absolutely crazy watching the show here,” YSU fan Jeff Crystal said. “The game was fabulous — Bo [Pelini] going crazy — we’re going to Texas!”
YSU will next play James Madison on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Tex. for the FCS national title. The Penguins are looking to capture their first national championship since 1997 when Jim Tressel — now the university president — was the head football coach.
Tressel released a statement following Saturday’s win.
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,” Tressel wrote. “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!!”
The MVR certainly swelled with pride when Kevin Rader caught the game-winning TD pass from Hunter Wells with one second left.
For all in the restaurant, it was a perfect early Christmas gift.
“Last-second play — nothing better,” Caputo said. “What a catch. What else can I say? What a catch. Great game.”
“When we saw the review, we knew it was a touchdown,” said YSU alum Gina Mancini. “We just had to sit there and wait — and then we celebrated.”
“This is absolutely insane,” she added. “It’s awesome for the community and awesome for YSU.”