Northern Illinois puts 15-game home winning streak on the line
By STEVE NITZ Shaw Media September 7, 2012 8:00PM
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AT N. ILLINOIS
The facts: 6, ESPN3.com, 1160-AM.
Updated: October 9, 2012 3:06PM
DeKALB, Ill. — Sean Progar hasn’t forgotten Sept. 26, 2009.
It was the Northern Illinois defensive end’s first start, and the game didn’t go too well for the Huskies. NIU couldn’t stop Idaho running back DeMaundray Woolridge, who ran for 143 yards. Vandals quarterback Nathan Enderle had a field day, going 18-for-23 for 273 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 Idaho win.
“I definitely remember playing against them,” Progar said.
Progar’s first start at Huskie Stadium might not have gone as he had hoped, but Progar and the Huskies haven’t lost a game in DeKalb since. NIU puts a 15-game home winning streak on the line Saturday night against FCS foe Tennessee-Martin.
“It’s a good atmosphere. I hope we get more fans this year at home, but regardless, it’s usually one of the louder MAC [stadiums] because I think the stadium shakes with the stands right on the field,” Progar said. “It’s pretty close, so it’s a pretty loud stadium regardless of the amount of fans we have.”
Undoubtedly, the Huskies have been able to win those 15 consecutive home games because of some talented teams. NIU has had back-to-back 11-win seasons and won seven games in 2009, the year the streak started.
But Doeren thinks the environment at the stadium, with the student section right on top of the opposing team’s sideline, plays a factor, as well.
“It’s a good environment. When it gets going in here, it’s loud,” Doeren said. “Obviously, I’ve said it since I’ve got here, if we could fill this place, it would be one of the hardest places to play because it gets really loud.
“When we get the crowds that really tilt in our favor, it’s a tough place to play for anybody because it echoes in here.”
Despite the Huskies’ FCS opponent, the game Saturday should see a good fan showing because it’s NIU’s home opener, even if half the students are gone by halftime because of the score.
The streak is on the players’ minds. Progar said Doeren mentioned the 15 consecutive victories in a team meeting Tuesday.
“We all know it, but he reminded us. The guys know,” Progar said. “We just take pride in it. Coach Doeren takes pride in it, so we take pride, too.”