Players to watch in YSU-James Madison championship showdown

Both teams boast standout running backs -- Jody Webb for YSU and Khalid Abdullah for JMU

YSU vs Eastern Washington – FCS Semifinal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Nearly 80 days.

That’s how long it will be since Youngstown State’s last loss by the time Saturday rolls around and the Penguins face James Madison for the National Championship in Frisco, Texas.

But while YSU (12-3) is on a six-game win streak and hasn’t lost since Oct. 22, the Dukes are even better. JMU (13-1) is riding an 11-game win-streak and hasn’t lost since Sept. 17.

So who’s powering these impressive streaks? Here’s five players to keep an eye on for both title teams.

YOUNGSTOWN STATE

1.) Jody Webb, RB — The explosive senior running back is the Penguins’ workhorse. He can go the distance on any play and has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past six games.

2.) Hunter Wells, QB — The junior is hot right now, throwing nine TDs and just one INT during the six-game win streak. Wells didn’t start until Oct. 29 and is coming off a 16 of 24, 244 yards, two TD game at EWU.

3.) Derek Rivers, DE — The second-team All-American is the cornerstone of YSU’s stingy defense. Rivers is the Penguins’ all-time sack leader and has 13 this year — including five in the past seven games.

4.) Avery Moss, DE — Rivers’ partner in crime, Moss has 9.5 sacks this season. He’s a crucial part of YSU’s defense, but left the Eastern Washington win early with an injury. We’ll see if he’s healthy and ready to go Saturday.

5.) Tevin McCaster, RB — The sophomore RB’s role increased big time when starter Martin Ruiz got suspended before the EWU game. He responded with 154 yards and 3 TDs against the Eagles and should see his touches again Saturday.

JAMES MADISON

1.) Khalid Abdullah, RB — The second team All-American RB leads the country in rushing TDs with 20. He torched North Dakota State for 180 rush yards in the semi’s and has 1,708 rush yards on the season.

2.) Rashard Davis, WR — The dangerous Dukes playmaker leads the nation in punt return average (29.9 yards) and has a school and CAA conference-record four punt return TDs this season.

3.) Bryan Schor, QB — The All-American QB has passed for 27 TDs this season and run for 10 more. He also leads the nation in completion percentage (73.7 percent).

4.) Mitchell Kirsch, OL — A first team All-American, Kirsch anchors the Dukes’ offensive line and will be in a star-studded matchup with either YSU’s Rivers or Moss.

5.) Taylor Reynolds, DB — The All-American corner has two interceptions and is second in the CAA with 12 pass breakups. He had a big game against NDSU, notching eight tackles and two pass breakups.

WKBN will be airing a live pregame show, “YSU Drive for Five,” on Friday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. on WKBN Channel 27 and WKBN.com.

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s