Antwon Wells scored on a 4-yard run with 1:28 to play and Central Arkansas defeated Illinois State 31-24 on Saturday in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
The Bears (10-2) scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to take a 24-17 lead. The Redbirds (6-6) tied it when Jake Kolbe hooked up with Anthony Warrum for a 55-yard touchdown with 6:22 remaining.
On the ensuing drive Central Arkansas pushed beyond midfield before Patrick Ponder's 41-yard punt pinned Illinois State on its 1. The Redbirds were forced to punt from their 3. On the next play Wells broke free on a short pass from Hayden Hildebrand for a 39-yard gain that led to the winning touchdown on the next snap.
Central Arkansas plays at No. 2 seed Eastern Washington (10-1) next Saturday.
Illinois State led 17-7 at the half but George Odum blocked a punt that Jakari Dillard returned 4 yards for a score in the first minute of the fourth quarter to start the Bears' comeback.
Hildebrand threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns to Desmond Smith.
Warrum caught both of Kolb's scoring passing and became the first ISU receiver with two 1,000-yard seasons.