Northern Iowa 40

(11-3, 4-3 away)

Texas State 37

(11-3, 9-1 home)

Coverage: ESPN2

8:00 PM ET, December 9, 2005

Bobcat Stadium (MT), Bozeman, MT

1 2 3 4 OT T
UNI 14 9 6 8 340
TXST 0 17 13 7 037

Top Performers

Passing: E. Sanders (UNI) - 417 YDS, 4 TD

Rushing: D. Horne (UNI) - 23 CAR, 73 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: P. Hunter (UNI) - 4 REC, 160 YDS, 2 TD

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.