2:00 PM ET, December 1, 2007
UNI-Dome, CEDAR FALLS, IA
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) -- Joe Flacco passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns and Erik Johnson returned a fumble 55 yards for a score, sending Delaware past top-seeded Northern Iowa 39-27 Saturday in the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals.
Omar Cuff added 102 yards rushing and a TD for the Blue Hens (10-3), who will play Southern Illinois next weekend for the right to advance to the national championship game Dec. 14 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Southern Illinois defeated Massachusetts 34-27 on Saturday.
Delaware won the national title in 2003.
Northern Iowa (12-1), which had been the last unbeaten team in the playoffs, got 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Corey Lewis and sacked Flacco five times. But the Panthers struggled much of the time after jumping to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and their defense couldn't make enough stops to get off the field.
Lewis finished with 1,513 yards rushing to break the school record of 1,383 set by Adam Benge in 2001.
Northern Iowa's Eric Sanders completed 26 of 38 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown. But Sanders overthrew several receivers, failed to see some open receivers and didn't look like the smooth-operating quarterback who had completed 76 percent of his passes coming in.
Trailing 20-19 in the third quarter, Delaware went ahead to stay on Jon Striefsky's 47-yard field goal, the longest of his career.
Cuff's 15-yard touchdown run made it 29-20 and finished a drive that Flacco saved with a big third-down conversion. Facing third-and-13 at his own 25, Flacco scrambled to avoid a sack, rolled to his right and fired a pass on the run to Duncan for a 44-yard gain.
Five plays later, Cuff burst up the middle and into the end zone.
Defensive end Matt Marcorelle then made a huge play, stripping the ball from Sanders after the Panthers had driven to the Delaware 15 and recovering it at his own 39. Delaware converted the opportunity into a 46-yard Striefsky field goal to make it 32-20.
Sanders hit a leaping Austin Howard in the far right corner of the end zone with a 4-yard pass to draw the Panthers to 32-27. But Flacco led the Blue Hens right back down the field and scored on a 1-yard sneak to secure the victory.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||13-20||4-10|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|TD||11:01||Corey Lewis 25 Yd Run (Billy Hallgren Kick) |
Drive: 5 plays, 64 yds, 1:54
|FG||03:26||Billy Hallgren 33 Yd |
Drive: 9 plays, 70 yds, 2:55
|TD||13:05||Mark Duncan 7 Yd Pass From Joe Flacco (Pat Blocked) |
Drive: 7 plays, 37 yds, 1:40
|TD||03:22||Robbie Agnone 7 Yd Pass From Joe Flacco (Pat Blocked) |
Drive: 12 plays, 80 yds, 4:47
|TD||03:02||Erik Johnson 55 Yd Fumble Return (Jon Striefsky Kick)||19||10|
|FG||00:29||Billy Hallgren 29 Yd |
Drive: 12 plays, 60 yds, 2:33
|TD||10:45||Corey Lewis 7 Yd Run (Billy Hallgren Kick) |
Drive: 9 plays, 71 yds, 4:15
|FG||07:40||Jon Striefsky 47 Yd |
Drive: 10 plays, 46 yds, 3:05
|TD||02:56||Omar Cuff 15 Yd Run (Jon Striefsky Kick) |
Drive: 8 plays, 72 yds, 3:09
|FG||08:03||Jon Striefsky 46 Yd |
Drive: 11 plays, 32 yds, 5:43
|TD||05:12||Austin Howard 4 Yd Pass From Eric Sanders (Billy Hallgren Kick) |
Drive: 9 plays, 70 yds, 2:51
|TD||00:41||Joe Flacco 1 Yd Run (Jon Striefsky Kick) |
Drive: 10 plays, 55 yds, 4:31