YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The YSU Penguins hit the field at Stambaugh Stadium at their first home game this year against Northern Iowa, who won 21-0.
Despite the loss, YSU fans were happy to be back but had to prepare for some new restrictions.
Saturday’s game looked a little different than what fans were used to. For example, there was a limited number of fans.
There was also no tailgating, and people had to be socially distanced in the stands.
However, students were still excited to cheer on the Penguins, happy to take a break from schoolwork.
“A lot of these students have been cooped up this whole time, and it’s good to get out and actually do something on campus. This is like the first thing that people have done,” said YSU junior Matt Morrison.
“My friends and I, we were at every game last year. The zero tailgating doesn’t affect us. We’re going to represent our university week-in, week-out. We’re going to be here,” said Alek Koberna, a YSU sophomore.
Cheerleaders and the band were also rooting for the Penguins.
Plus, up to 3,600 fans are able to cheer the team on from the stadium for spring football home games.
This is the first time many students have been able to support the Penguins. They haven’t played at home since last year.
“It’s kind of, just, didn’t really feel like that college experience, and when we got the announcement that the fans could come back, and it was just like pure excitement,” Koberna said.
Even Northern Iowa fans showed up for the game.
One of them is a football coach himself, Brandon Napoleon, the defensive back coach at Geneva College.
He says cheers and support from the crowd are crucial for players.
“It’s the juice, you know. You catch an interception, you look in the stands, there’s no one in the stands. Who you playing for?” Napoleon said.
Now, the fans and players can look forward to three more home games.
The Penguins will be hitting the field again next Saturday against Southern Illinois.
“We’ve been waiting all season,” said Abigail Yesko, a YSU lacrosse player. “So I’m glad we get to go today, and hopefully we can go to more games coming up soon.”