Scores

Final

Akron 31

(7-5, 5-3 MAC)

N Illinois 30

(7-5, 6-2 MAC)

7:30 PM ET, December 1, 2005

Ford Field, DETROIT, MI

1 2 3 4 T
AKR 10 0 0 2131
NIU 0 10 14 630

Top Performers

Passing: L. Getsy (AKR) - 413 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: G. Wolfe (NIU) - 42 CAR, 270 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: D. Hixon (AKR) - 8 REC, 144 YDS, 1 TD

Akron shocks Northern Illinois, advances to bowl

DETROIT (AP) -- The Akron Zips won the first conference title in school history, wrapped up a berth in the Motor City Bowl -- and hope they earned some national attention.

Luke Getsy threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 10 seconds left to give Akron a 31-30 victory over Northern Illinois on Thursday night in the Mid-American Conference championship game at Ford Field.

MAC Champions' Bowl Results Last Five Years
Year Team Result
2005 Akron ???
2004 Toledo Lost
2003 Miami (Ohio) Won
2002 Marshall Won
2001 Toledo Won
2000 Marshall Won
"This is a huge moment, not just for our football program, but for our athletic department and our university," Zips coach J.D. Brookhart said. "This was the best three-hour advertisement you could ask for, because we are still in the building phase of this program."

The Zips (7-5) overcame a national conference championship-game record 270 yards and two touchdowns by Huskies tailback Garrett Wolfe.

"In the fourth quarter, if I could have broken one more tackle or made one more move, maybe we could have gotten the first down we needed," he said. "We lost the game, so it doesn't matter how many yards I had."

Akron's winning drive started on its own 19 with 1:41 left and no timeouts. The Zips drove into Northern Illinois (7-5) territory and Hixon beat Adriel Hansbro down the middle of the field and grabbed Getsy's pass deep in the end zone.

"We were two yards short of the first down that would have ended the game," Northern Illinois coach Joe Novak said. "We couldn't make the play when we needed one, and they did."

The Zips had never won a football title in any conference, dating to their joining the Ohio Athletic Conference in 1915.

Wolfe had 42 carries and easily broke the previous MAC title-game record of 188 yards, set by Toledo's Chester Taylor in 2001, and the 2-year-old national record of 235 yards, set by Kansas State's Darren Sproles.

The score was tied at 10 at halftime.

Wolfe raced 62 yards to the Zips 20 midway through the third, then scored his second touchdown on a 12-yard burst.

After a fumble, the Huskies made it 24-10 when Dan Nicholson hit Sam Hurd at the goal line with a 19-yard scoring pass.

The Zips rallied and cut the margin to 24-17 on a 3-yard run by Brett Biggs with 13:53 remaining.

Chris Nendick pushed Northern Illinois' lead back to 10 points with a championship game-record 52-yard field goal. But Getsy countered with a 7-yard draw for a touchdown that pulled the Zips within 27-24.

Nendick's third field goal, a 46-yarder, made it a six-point game with 3:28 to go.

Akron drove to the Northern Illinois 33, before Getsy's pass bounced off the hands of Dennis Kennedy and was intercepted by linebacker Phil Brown.

Northern Illinois went three-and-out, forcing Akron to use all three timeouts, but the Zips got possession and Getsy drove for the winning score.

"It was an unbelievable finish," Brookhart said. "We found a way to go 80 yards."

Getsy was 30-of-50 for 413 yards, and Hixon had eight catches for 144 yards.

The game was as wild as the teams' first meeting, which Akron won 48-42 in overtime on Sept. 24.

Akron took a 3-0 lead on their first possession on Jason Swiger's 47-yard field goal, the longest in MAC title-game history until Nendick's kick three quarters later.

The teams then traded short rushing touchdowns, as Kennedy put Akron up 10-0 with a 3-yard run. Wolfe made it 10-7 with a 1-yard dive.

Swiger narrowly missed a 46-yard field goal attempt. Nendick tied the game at 10 with a 21-yarder.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
AKR
NIU
1st Downs2719
Total Yards518360
Passing413110
Rushing105250
Penalties8-703-10
3rd Down Conversions6-146-15
4th Down Conversions1-10-0
Turnovers20
Possession26:5633:04

Passing Leaders

AkronC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTQBR
Getsy30/504138.311-
Biggs0/100.000-
Northern IllinoisC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTQBR
Nicholso...7/171106.510-

Rushing Leaders

AkronCARYDSAVGTDLG
Biggs20703.5116
Hixon12020.0020
Northern IllinoisCARYDSAVGTDLG
Wolfe422706.4262
Davis4102.506

Receiving Leaders

AkronRECYDSAVGTDLG
Hixon814418.0136
Kasparek68113.5032
Northern IllinoisRECYDSAVGTDLG
Davis24120.5038
Hurd22613.0119

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERAKRNIU
FG11:54JASON SWIGER 47 YD FG
Drive info: 8 plays, 35 yards.
30
TD2:55DENNIS KENNEDY 3 YD RUN (JASON SWIGER KICK)
Drive info: 6 plays, 61 yards.
100
SECOND QUARTERAKRNIU
TD11:14GARRETT WOLFE 1 YD RUN (CHRIS NENDICK KICK)
Drive info: 8 plays, 67 yards.
107
FG2:21CHRIS NENDICK 21 YD FG
Drive info: 9 plays, 67 yards.
1010
THIRD QUARTERAKRNIU
TD5:03GARRETT WOLFE 11 YD RUN (CHRIS NENDICK KICK)
Drive info: 5 plays, 81 yards.
1017
TD1:43SAM HURD 19 YD PASS FROM DAN NICHOLSON (CHRIS NENDICK KICK)
Drive info: 6 plays, 32 yards.
1024
FOURTH QUARTERAKRNIU
TD13:53BRETT BIGGS 3 YD RUN (JASON SWIGER KICK)
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yards.
1724
FG10:49CHRIS NENDICK 52 YD FG
Drive info: 8 plays, 55 yards.
1727
TD7:35LUKE GETSY 7 YD RUN (JASON SWIGER KICK)
Drive info: 10 plays, 76 yards.
2427
FG3:28CHRIS NENDICK 46 YD FG
Drive info: 9 plays, 42 yards.
2430
TD0:10DOMENIK HIXON 36 YD PASS FROM LUKE GETSY (JASON SWIGER KICK)
Drive info: 9 plays, 81 yards.
3130