Kent State battled Northern Illinois into two overtimes but saw its hopes of claiming the school's first Mid-American Conference football title in 40 years and an improbable BCS bowl berth fall just short at Detroit's Ford Field.
Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns to lead Northern Illinois to a 44-37 victory over Kent State in Friday night's Marathon MAC Championship.
Even with Lynch backing up his selection as the conference's offensive player of the year, the Golden Flashes battled their way into overtime with three touchdowns in the final 4:53 of regulation.
The first two of those scores arrived just 15 seconds apart.
"What a great football game," said Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell. "It's a tough one for us to swallow, but that's a great football team we played. I was proud of our football team for keeping battling back … We just needed to make a couple of more plays at the end on both sides of the football.
"I love our guys in the locker room. They are in there hurting. This team will take a couple of days to get over this one."
While there will be no trip to the Orange Bowl or the Sugar Bowl, this week's No. 17 team in the BCS ranking and No. 18 team in the Associated Press Poll can take the heart it showed in its fourth-quarter comeback into its first bowl appearance since 1972.
The announcement of where Kent State will play in December will be made the night of Sunday, Dec. 2.