Youngstown State at Eastern Washington FCS Football 2016 Semifinal Breakdown

Youngstown State played a game of momentum against Wofford in the quarterfinals.  Initially, the pendulum was in Wofford’s favor, jumping to an early 9-0 first quarter lead.  The second quarter belonged to YSU, as they took a 13-9 lead into the halftime break.  The second half was more back and forth.  With just over five minutes remaining, Penguins kicker Zak Kennedy helped right an overall rocky game by nailing a 32-yard field goal, tying the game and eventually sending it to overtime.  To that point, he had missed two field goal tries and one of his three extra points.  Both the Penguins and Terriers failed to score in the first overtime.  After punching in a touchdown in the second overtime, the Penguins shut down the Terriers completely to clinch the win.  Quarterback Hunter Wells was 15 for 22 for only 179 yards but had three touchdown passes against one interception.  Running back Jody Webb was the engine that moved the train, tallying 213 yards on 34 carries.  The Penguins were able to hold Wofford to 0 yards passing, but hey, they only threw three passes.  The run-first Terriers did go for 297 yards on 61 carriers, but that’s what they do.  Overall, YSU had to be pleased with the effort.
Eastern Washington wanted nothing to do with a pendulum.  The hosts accepted the Richmond Spiders challenge and burned them up on “The Inferno” turf of Roos Field, 38-0.  If Eastern Washington’s defense is going to perform at this level, with the offense they have, you’re looking at the National Champion right here.  The magic back-up quarterback Kevin Johnson had been conjuring since the injury to starter Kyle Lauletta’s ended his season, dried up like a sunbaked puddle.  Eagles quarterback Gage Gubrud was spreading the ball all over the field, hitting three different receivers for touchdowns, on 21-32 passing and 287 yards.  Nsimba Webster made good on the first one in the first quarter.  Then a shocking thing happened, both Shaq Hill and Cooper Kupp each nabbed passes for scores in the second (note heaping mounds of sarcasm).  The Eagles were content running in scores from the point, as they just salted the game away, giving their defense its first shutout in over seven years.
This is a very interesting game.  The Penguins have the pass rush that a team like Eastern Washington’s pass happy-selves need to be concerned about.  If the defensive backs can throw a blanket over this unbelievable group of receivers, defensive ends Avery Moss and Derek Rivers will get to Gubrud.  It’s not a matter of if, but when, provided that situation occurs.  The Eagles defense on the other hand will have their hands full with running back Webb.  Don’t think for a minute that the Penguins are void of concern with the Eagles offense.  If the pass rush falters at all and time is given to stand in the pocket for Gubrud, then Kupp and company will find open spaces.  Home field advantage will be a slight factor, but the feeling is that the better defense is traveling here, for the upset.
Projected Score: Youngstown State 39, Eastern Washington 38