FRISCO, Texas (WKBN) – Youngstown State left behind heartbreak in Frisco, Texas on Saturday.
James Madison, meanwhile, left behind purple and gold streamers — which became a Penguins fan’s sight for sore eyes — as the Dukes celebrated a 28-14 National Championship win at Toyota Stadium.
Sure, YSU fell short of its ultimate goal.
Still, for a team that broke a 10-year playoff drought and put together an inspiring four-win postseason run, the Penguins (12-4) can certainly hold their heads high.
Take it from Head Coach Bo Pelini himself.
“I told my football team that I’m proud of them,” Pelini said. “The way they fought, the way they came together and what they did for this program.”
“To God be the glory, man,” senior All-American defensive end Derek Rivers said. “This was a blessing.”
The YSU faithful who made the long haul down south agree.
“They were Cinderella team,” said Terry Simpson, YSU class of 1975. “Played a good game. But this JMU team is a great team.”
“I’m still thankful,” said Jaleesa Beverly, an Ursuline graduate. “They played very well. I’m very proud of them — that’s most important.”
“They didn’t win, but they played their hearts out to get here,” said Tom Trgrvac, an Austintown native. “Very proud of them. Looking forward to next year.”
The playoff run also reunited two cousins — Brian Horgan who went to YSU and Tim Sedmak who went to JMU.
They agreed to meet in Texas if both teams made it to the National Championship.
“We’ve been out of school 30 years, but we got reconnected to our schools these last months,” Sedmak said. “Phenomenal for the two of us to do this — it’s once in a lifetime.”
And the final word from quarterback Hunter Wells, who had a special message to the YSU fans.
“Thank you everyone for rallying around us,” Wells said. “Thank you seniors, thank you teammates, thank you coaches.”
“If you would have told us this was gonna all happen back in whatever month, no one probably would have believed you. But it just shows the character of this team and everyone inside that locker room.”