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Youngstown State Penguins Head Coach Doug Phillips has been referring to the team’s playoff run as “a new season.”
If that’s the case, we only can hope its 1-0 record continues undefeated.
In Saturday’s game 1 of the FCS playoffs, the Penguin defense limited the Duquesne Dukes to just 74 rushing yards. Meanwhile, the Penguins ran for 210 yards, helping lead YSU to a very comfortable 40-7 victory.
In fact, it was YSU’s most complete performance on all sides of the ball since the Penguins’ 31-3 upset victory over Southern Illinois on Oct. 7.
YSU’s offense outgained the Dukes 532-148 Saturday and dominated the time of possession 42:27 to 17:33. Then the defense held Duquesne to just 115 total yards.
We can only say this: Wow!
Youngstown State football has a storied history and tradition of success. Most of us have no problem recalling the excitement of the 1990s when our Penguins won four national championships in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997, and also had two national runner-up finishes in 1992 and 1999.
The Penguins also finished as national champion runners up in 2016 after the team beat the odds by winning four straight games to make it to the national title game where they, unfortunately, fell to James Madison.
The fact is, though, no one ever expected them to get that far back then. Yet, they played their hearts out to make it to the title game, proving anything is possible.
Coach Phillips has high hopes for this year’s playoff team and a strong desire to raise the bar. “A program like Youngstown State needs to be a playoff team year in and year out,” he said last week.
And so, here we are. Let’s keep the excitement rolling.
Now, it’s on to eastern Pennsylvania where the team will face No. 8 seed Villanova at noon Saturday. The Wildcats were idle last week, as each of the top-eight seeds in the playoffs earned a first-round bye.
We wish Coach Phillips and our Penguins the best of luck as they head toward Philadelphia. While Villanova is favored at this time, we are confident that the challenge is not insurmountable. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all, that the team rose to the challenge.