Northern Iowa advances to I-AA finals

SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) -- Matt Tharp intercepted Barrick Nealy's
third-down pass after Brian Wingert made a 25-yard field goal to
give Northern Iowa a 40-37 overtime victory over Texas State in the
Division I-AA semifinals on Friday night.

Northern Iowa (11-3) will face the winner of Saturday's game
between Furman (11-2) and Appalachian State (10-3) next Friday
night in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Northern Iowa tied it at 37 with 1:27 left on Terrance Freeney's
2-yard touchdown run and Eric Sanders' 2-point conversion pass to
Justin Surrency. Sanders, who passed for 417 yards and four
touchdowns, was 6-of-7 on the 72-yard tying drive.

Texas State had a chance to win in regulation, but the Bobcats
(11-3) ran out the final 1:16 to set up the overtime, drawing boos
from the crowd of 15,712.

Texas State took a 37-29 lead with 5:01 left on Daniel Jolly's
2-yard run. Dominic Giametta recovered Johnny Gray's fumble deep in
Panthers' territory to set up the TD.

Sanders completed his first nine passes, including a 30-yarder
to a diving Justin Surrency in the end zone, and another for 12
yards to Brian Cutright for a touchdown, and Northern Iowa led 14-0
with 3:30 left in the first quarter.

Texas State answered with an 11-play, 82-yard drive capped by
Barrick Nealy's pass to a wide-open Markee White, but the Panthers
came right back. Sanders' play-action fake froze the Bobcats'
defense, and receiver Patrick Hunter was 20 yards behind the
nearest defender on a 69-yard scoring play that helped the Panthers
take a 23-17 lead at the break.