The 1993 National Champions
Youngstown State's reward for beating Central Florida, Georgia Southern and Idaho at home in the playoffs was to play at a hostile environment for the National Championship against Marshall in Huntington, W. Va. for the second straight year.
But the one thing the Penguins had on their side was the revenge factor. In the 1992 title game, YSU played at Marshall and came up just short losing 31-28 despite an incredible rally from a 28-0 deficit to the tie the game. Marshall scored the first 28 points of that game before the Penguins rallied for the next 28. But a field goal late in the fourth quarter dashed YSU's 1992 title hopes setting the stage for a memorable 1993 championship game.
This time, the Penguins would come out on top beating Marshall 17-5 on its home field and winning the national title for the second time in three years.
YSU jumped out quickly scoring 17 first-quarter points. Darnell Clark ran 50 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the game and just over two minutes later Tamron Smith scored on a five-yard run. Later in the period, Jeff Wilkins kicked a 19-yard field goal and from there it was the Penguin defense that was impressive.
Marshall moved into YSU territory only once in the first half before getting on the board on a 27-yard field goal late in the third. In the fourth, the Thundering Herd threatened driving deep into YSU territory. Marshall had a first down at the YSU three, but was stopped on three straight plays. On fourth-and-goal from the one, the Penguins' defense stuffed Chris Parker to take over with 5:14 left in the game and end any MU comeback hopes.
YSU took a safety later in the drive and with 1:40 left a Vance Mayes interception sealed the Penguins second national-title game win.
Youngstown State rolled through the first three rounds of the playoffs winning by an average margin of 22 points. YSU beat Central Florida 56-30 in the first round, Georgia Southern 34-14 in the quarterfinals and Idaho 35-16 in the semifinals. The victories all set the stage and gave the Penguins momentum entering the title contest.
Against Central Florida, YSU scored 35 first-half points en route to the win. Against Georgia Southern, the Penguins jumped out to a 27-0 lead before the Eagles scored midway through the third quarter.
In the semifinals against Idaho, Youngstown State trailed 16-14 at halftime in a snow storm. But in the third quarter Tamron Smith scored on an eight-yard touchdown run and Marc Brungard tossed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Don Zwisler to extend the YSU lead to 12. Clark added a 15-yard scoring run in the fourth as the Penguins advanced to the title game for the third consecutive year.
In the regular season, Youngstown State opened with a win at Western Michigan before losing at Stephen F. Austin. After the tough road loss, YSU picked up wins over Morgan State, Eastern Kentucky, Delaware State, Liberty, Samford, Buffalo and Indiana State. The Penguins' seven-game winning streak was snapped when they lost 13-10 on a late touchdown at Illinois State. YSU closed the regular season shutting out Akron 19-0.