Crazy Catch Sends YSU To Title Game

Tribune Chronicle  R. Michael Semple
Youngstown State receiver Damoun Patterson makes a reception over a Wofford defender and rushes in for a second-quarter touchdown during last week's quarterfinal win over Wofford in Youngstown. The Penguins face

The Penguins won without four players including their leading rusher, senior running back Martin Ruiz, and leading receiver, junior wide receiver Darien Townsend.

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With the snow falling on the staple red astroturf at Roos Field Saturday night, Youngstown State University defeated No. 2 seed host Eastern Washington University in the second FCS semifinal 40-38 in dramatic fashion. Quarterback Hunter Wells threw this pass to tight end Kevin Rader, who made this absolutely ridiculous one-armed grab, trapping the ball against the defensive back for the game-winning four-yard score. This will see Youngstown State face James Madison, who recently upset No. 1 North Dakota State, ending their six-year reign of dominance.

James Madison and Youngstown State were both able to gain their semifinal victories on the road, making their achievements in reaching the FCS title game even more impressive.

The Penguins will play for the national championship January 7 in Frisco, Texas, against James Madison, which beat North Dakota State Friday, 27-17. Wells finished 16 of 24 for 243 yards and two touchdowns.

Coach's Comment: "It was a heck of a football game".

Cooper Kupp caught 10 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns for Eastern Washington (12-2), which saw its 11-game winning streak snapped.

Eastern Washington leads FCS with an average of 411 passing yards per game behind quarterback Gage Gubrud, while Youngstown State allows only 182 passing yards per game. Against North Dakota State, the Dukes weren't going to maintain what was the nation's No. 1 scoring average, but their prolific offense still managed the second-highest points of the season against the Bison.

Previous meeting: This will be the second meeting between the schools and first since 1997 - a 25-14 win by Youngstown State.