Dec. 13, 2008

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) -Eric Ward threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Joe Stewart with 14 seconds left to give Richmond a 21-20 victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday, sending the Spiders to the Football Championship Subdivision title game.

Richmond (12-3) started the winning drive at its own 38 with 1:44 remaining and no timeouts left. Ward calmly passed the Spiders down the field and hit Stewart, his tight end, in the end zone to tie it at 20.

Andrew Howard kicked the extra point and, after Northern Iowa's final play went nowhere, the Spiders celebrated while the stunned Panthers looked on in silence.

Richmond reached the final for the first time and will play Montana in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Friday night. The 12 victories are a school record for the Spiders, who had been in the semifinals for only the second time.

Northern Iowa (12-3) was seeking its second trip to the title game in four years.

Pat Grace's two third-quarter touchdown passes helped the Panthers build a 20-7 lead, but after stopping the Spiders on fourth-and-1 with 2:13 to play, they couldn't come up with another big stop in the final drive.

Ward also threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Grayson and scored on a 1-yard sneak that drew the Spiders to 20-14 with 11:16 left. He finished 28-of-35 for 280 yards with no interceptions.

Grace was 19-of-28 for 224 yards, including touchdown passes of 4 yards to Ryan Mahaffey and 10 yards to Jarred Herring. But he overthrew Herring and Schuylar Oordt on what would have been sure touchdowns and dropped a throwback pass when he had four blockers and an open field in front of him.

The Panthers stalled four times on good drives and had to settle for Billy Hallgren's field-goal attempts. Hallgren connected with 35 and 25 yards,but missed from 42 and 51 yards.

Richmond's Josh Vaughan rushed for 86 yards on 17 carries, while Ward added 33 yards on nine attempts. Corey Lewis ran 12 times for 77 yards for Northern Iowa.