CHARLESTON, Ill. -- Terrance West ran in any direction he wanted.
Towson's junior running back rolled up an FCS playoff-record 354 yards and five touchdowns on 39 carries Friday night as the seventh-seeded Tigers advanced to the FCS semifinals with a 49-39 win over No. 2 Eastern Illinois at snowy O'Brien Field.
Both teams are 12-2, but it's Towson that will meet the winner of Saturday's Jacksonville State-Eastern Washington matchup next weekend.
After the Panthers converted a fumble off the second-half kickoff into the tying score on a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Jimmy Garropolo, West peeled off 41 yards on five carries on the Tigers' next drive. He capped it with a 6-yard run and a 28-21 lead with 9:52 left in the third quarter.
Eastern Illinois kicker Cameron Berra made a 28-yard field goal with 6:20 remaining, chopping the deficit to 28-24. But West rushed six times for 33 yards on the next drive, finishing it with a 5-yard run to make it 35-24 with 1:13 left.
Garropolo's 39-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Jeff LePak and a two-point pass to wide receiver Erik Lora sliced the margin to 35-32 25 seconds into the fourth quarter.
However, after an exchange of punts gave Towson the ball at the Panthers' 42-yard line, West raced 37 yards off right end on second down to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by backup running back Darius Victor with 9:53 remaining.
Three plays after the Tigers recovered Garropolo's fumble at the Eastern Illinois 22, West tacked on a 3-yard run with 7:33 left to seal the win.
Garropolo completed 38 of 50 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Lora caught 18 passes for 129 yards and a score.
Eastern Illinois wasted no time jumping on Towson in the first quarter. Garropolo capped a 17-play, 76-yard drive by hitting Lora with a 3-yard touchdown pass with 10:13 on the clock.
After the Tigers' first drive went three-and-out, the Panthers quickly went 63 yards in six plays. Garropolo ducked under a couple of pass rushers and covered the last 6 yards for a 14-0 lead with 7:18 left in the quarter.
Towson dominated the second quarter, getting on the board when West scored on a 9-yard run with 12:40 remaining. Backup quarterback Connor Frazier evened the score at 14 on a 4-yard run with 6:21 remaining in the first half.
West ripped off a 63-yard scoring jaunt with 4:39 left in the half, taking advantage of a nice downfield block by wide receiver Derrick Joseph and sprinting the last 30 yards untouched.
NOTES: Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garropolo came into Friday night's game needing five TD passes and 347 yards to hold the FCS season records in each category. ... Garropolo and Towson RB Terrance West are two of the three finalists for the 27th Walter Payton Award, the FCS' version of the Heisman Trophy. ... The referee drew some boos from the small crowd when he announced that Eastern Washington, not Eastern Illinois, took a second-quarter timeout.