SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Tyson Kooima connected with Michael Story on a 23 yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds remaining to lift Northwestern over Morningside in the semifinals on Saturday to send the Red Raiders to the NAIA Championship game. The Northwestern victory snaps Morningside's 39 game winning streak.
The first quarter and a half of this game belonged to Morningside. Anthony Sims scored his third rushing touchdown of the first half midway through the second quarter to give Morningside a 21-9 lead. Sims finished the day with 224 yards and three touchdowns.
Tyson Kooima finsihed the first half with two rushing touchdowns. But Northwestern trailed Morningside 27-23 at halftime.
The third quarter began with a Joe Dolincheck quarterback sneak for a touchdown. His second rushing score of the game. That gave Morningside a 34-23 lead.
The turning point in the game came midway through the thrid quarter. Trevor Rozeboom sacked Dolincheck and forced a fumble. Brett Moser recoverd the fumble and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown. The Red Raiders cut the Mustangs lead to 34-29.
But Morningside had an answer. Early in the fourth quarter, Dolincheck fired a screen pass to Austin Johnson that went for a 12 yard touchdown giving the Mustangs a 41-29 lead.
After that, it was all Northwestern. On the Red Raiders first play of the ensuing drive, Kooima connects with Cade Moser on a 75 yard touchdown pass. Again, Northwestern is within one score, it's 41-36. Kooima threw for 490 yards and three touchdowns. Moser finished with 11 catches for 303 yards and one touchdown.
Northwestern's defense came up huge down the stretch. The Red Raiders stopped the Mustangs twice on fourth and one in the red zone. The second one came with just over a minute remaining to give the offense one final shot to win the game.
Kooima threw a ball up to the endzone and Michael Storey came down with the catch in traffic for a 23 yard touchdown with just 16 seconds left on the clock. A two point conversion gave Northwestern a 44-41 lead and they would hang on for the victory.
"I can't tell you how much I love our guys," said Northwestern head coach Matt McCarty. "We just kept talking, even at halftime, the socre at the end of the game when the clock hits zero, that's all we're concerned about. We had so many guys just battling through today with the heat. I'm so proud of our guys. I can't tell you how much I love this group."
"Feels pretty sureal. I'm just so greatful to be a part of this program," said junior Cade Moser. "Our coaches put us in great spots. We just made plays. I don't even know what I'm feeling right now. I'm just exhausted."
"Really was incredible what they accomplished, what they worked through, what they battled through. It was a rough year," said Morningside head coach Steve Ryan. "You want so much more for them in the end because of all that they accomplished but I am extremely proud of all that they did."
#6 Northwestern will face #3 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in the NAIA championship game on Monday May 10th in Grambling, Louisiana.