December 14, 2002
(Statesboro-AP) -- Quarterback Jason Michael scored in the clutch on a 2-yard touchdown with 46 seconds remaining to give Western Kentucky a 31-28 victory over Georgia Southern and its first trip to the Division I-AA championship today.
Michael's game-winning score in the division semifinal, which capped a 76-yard drive for the Hilltoppers, dashed Georgia Southern's hopes of winning its seventh championship since 1997 after the Eagles battled back from a 17-point deficit to lead 28-24 late in the 4th quarter.
Western Kentucky, which had never advanced beyond the I-AA quarterfinals, will face McNeese State in the championship December 20th in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Michael scored twice for Western Kentucky, rushed for 38 yards and completed 9 of 15 passes for 149 yards.
Hilltopper runningback Jon Frazier added 103 yards rushing and two TDs, including a goal-line run early in the 1st quarter as Western Kentucky capitalized on a Georgia Southern fumble on its own 4 yard line. Georgia Southern evened the score 7-7 on its second possession.
Quarterback Chaz Williams scored on a 6-yard run after driving 70 yards in eight plays. But it was the last time the Eagles would score until the 4th quarter.