It was the start of the 2002 college football season. I was only a Sophomore in High School. I may still be a huge fan of college football, but I am nothing compared to what I used to be. I was a College Football NERD back then (although I may still be). All (not most) of my spare time would be dedicated to looking up stats, rankings and box scores. I played NCAA 2003 (the one with Joey Harrington on it) until my fingers bled. My interests in NIU were piqued when 2 of my former teammates at Wheaton North, RB AJ Harris and QB Zach Ullrich decided to sign on to the Huskies my Freshman year.
I vividly remember watching this game in my basement, especially the point where I was yelling at my dad to come watch. I don't have that great of a memory, so this must have had more of an impact on me than I had originally thought. It truly is the first memory I have of watching a Northern Illinois game on television. It was primetime and the Huskies wanted to get the taste out of their mouths from the 2001 season finale against the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons, losing 38-35 in Winston-Salem, NC.
The game stands by itself in a moment of time. The star of the game? None other than current Minnesota RBs Coach Thomas Hammock. He ran for 172 yds and 2 TDs on 38 carries! Unbelievable numbers. His back up was none other than...drumroll please: Michael Turner. Unfortunately after the game, Hammock was diagnosed with a heart-related condition that eventually ended his Senior season and his playing career forever. Turner also got some looks at special teams, in which he scored a TD off a Kickoff return. Talk about getting your best players out there on the field! Despite Hammock's final game, 9/29/02 marked the debut of legendary Huskie QB Josh Haldi who went on to lead NIU up until 2004.
This game made me and probably many others a Huskie fan. If I had never seen this game I don't even know if I would have gone to NIU, but now I am a proud alum. So just sit back and watch the youtube highlights of this spectacular point in Huskie History. The intro video is extremely epic. Can't say if I've seen anything better since.
1st Quarter, 0:19 - WF 14, NIU 7
2nd Quarter, 10:05 - WF 21, NIU 14
3rd Quarter, 10:58 - WF 28, NIU 24
4th Quarter, 11:15 - WF 35, NIU 32
The Conclusion - WF 41, NIU 42