Penguins Fall to James Madison in National Title Game

Avery Moss
Avery Moss

Frisco, Texas -- The Youngstown State football team's improbable postseason run for its fifth national championship came up short after a 28-14 loss to James Madison in the 2017 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game on Saturday afternoon at Toyota Stadium.

The Penguins finish the season with a 12-4 record and collect their third national runner-up finish. James Madison wins its second national title with a 14-1 record.

Junior QB Hunter Wells passed for 271 yards on 28-of-47 passing, both career highs, with two touchdown passes. Well also hit 10 different receivers. Wells threw touchdown passes to Shane Kuhn from 17 yards out in the second quarter and Jermiah Braswell for seven yards late in the game.

Senior TB Jody Webb led the Penguins with 10 receptions for 63 yards - both career highs - and Alvin Bailey had seven catches for 60 yards. Webb also rushed for 41 yards on 17 carries and had 91 yards in kickoff returns for 195 all-purpose yards. With his effort, he set the school record for career all-purpose yards at 5,247.

JMU capitalized on a pair YSU punting miscues to jump out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. The Dukes blocked Mark Schuler's first punt and returned it to the YSU 18. Two plays later, Bryan Schor hit Jonathon Kloosterman on a 14-yard pass with 12:10 left in the first

After a 20-yard punt by Schuler and a 30-yard run by Abdullah to the YSU 20, Schor hit Rashard Davis on an 18-yard touchdown pass at the 9:37 mark of the first quarter

The Dukes went up 21-0 after an eight-play, 87-yard drive that was capped by a one-yard run by Khalid Abdullah with 8:17 to go in teh second quarter. Passes of 33 and 31 yards set up Abdullah's one-yard run for the score.

The Penguins cut into the JMU lead when Solomon Warfield partially blocked a JMU punt which set up a 17-yard touchdown pass from Wells to Kuhn with 3:35 left in the second quarter.

James Madison went up 28-7 after Wells pass that richoceted off of Damoun Patterson's foot and into the arms of Curtis Oliver. The Dukes went 47 yards in six plays and scored on a two-yard run by Abdullah, who had 101 yards rushing on 26 carries.

The Penguins scored their final touchdown, the Wells to Braswell seven-yard pass, with 10 seconds left in the game.