DETROIT - Luke Getsy threw a 36-yard touchdown 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.
The Zips (7-5) overcame a national conference championship-game record 270 yards and two touchdowns by Huskies tailback Garrett Wolfe to earn the first title in school history and a berth in the Motor City Bowl.
Akron's winning drive started on its 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 and grabbed Getsy's pass in the end zone.
The Zips had never won a football title in any conference, dating to joining the Ohio Athletic Conference in 1915.
Wolfe had 42 carries and broke the 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 then scored his second touchdown on a 12-yard burst, and after a fumble, the Huskies made it 24-10 when Dan Nicholson hit Sam Hurd with a 19-yard touchdown pass.
The Zips cut the margin to 24-17 on a 3-yard run by Brett Biggs with 13:53 left. Chris Nendick pushed Northern Illinois' lead back to 10 points with a championship game-record 52-yard field goal. Getsy's 7-yard draw for a touchdown pulled the Zips within 27-24.
Nendick's third field goal, a 46-yarder, made it a six-point game with 3:28 left.
University High founder vows to fight back
Florida authorities have begun an investigation into the correspondence high school where at least 28 football players quickly raised their grades enough to become eligible for college athletic scholarships, Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade County state attorney's office said Thursday.
The founder of the school, University High, responded that he would use the legal system to protect himself from investigations begun this week in response to a report in the New York Times about football players who had dropped out of public schools to attend University.
"There are only so many agencies that can get into the act," Stanley J. Simmons, who founded University High in 2000, said from his Miami home.
Simmons, 75, sold the school last year to Michael R. Kinney, 27, the director of the school. Kinney has declined comment.
Separately, one of the central figures in the University High matter, Antron D. Wright, a substitute teacher in Dade County public schools, was identified among hundreds of teachers in the Miami area who had falsified their credentials.
Wright, 30, who was well-connected to Miami athletes as well as to college recruiters, had directed star football players who were struggling with grades to University High, which offered no classes or instruction, but gave open-book tests. Wright has declined to comment.
ARKANSAS: Guard Fred Bledsoe and defensive end Michael Tate were suspended for violating team rules.
CLEMSON: Center Barry Humphries was suspended from the bowl game after he was charged last month with driving under the influence in Clayton, Ga. Humphries wouldn't have played anyway, but coach Tommy Bowden said the punishment means he won't travel with the team to the bowl, "and thus will not realize any of the benefits allowed student-athletes by the NCAA that accompany a bowl trip."
LOTT TROPHY: Linebackers A.J. Hawk of Ohio State and DeMeco Ryans of Alabama and end Darryl Tapp of Virginia Tech were selected as finalists for defensive player of the year. Candidates are judged on on-field and off-field performance.