I’ve never been more content with being proven wrong than I was on Saturday at Huskie Stadium for football’s season opener against Eastern Illinois.
After I questioned the attendance and support of the Huskie students and fans last week, they all came out for the best showing Huskie Stadium has seen since 2003 against Maryland.
A sellout crowd of 23,595 was on hand to see the Huskies extend the NCAA’s longest home-winning streak in the nation to 22 with a 43-39 victory over the Panthers.
In my four years of going to football games at Huskie Stadium, I had never seen the student section as full and into the game as it was. Not only were the stands completely packed, they were loud for all four quarters of football, even when the team was down 20-0 early in the first quarter.
“It was an emotional game,” said senior safety Jimmie Ward. “The crowd gave us a lot of enthusiasm. During tough breaks the crowd helped us pull this through.”
The energy from the stands added a “12th man” feel to the game, which had a hand in causing the Panthers to commit a number of their 14 penalties.
“I thought they [the fans] were super,” said EIU coach Dino Babers. “They love their football team and they make a lot of noise, and that was really cool. And your fans and your noise level cost us some plays out there. Some of the mistakes we made [were] because we couldn’t communicate as well verbally as we needed to and we missed some visual signs, so my hat’s off to you guys. You contributed to the win.”
As well as having an impact in the game, the attendance showed a great deal of support — which has been lacking in recent seasons — for the Huskies’ football program.
“I mean, that’s unbelievable, I was so happy,” said head coach Rod Carey. “I’m proud of our fans. I mean, that’s what we had in the Orange Bowl and we had it again here tonight, and you know, the expectations are we’re going to have it every time we’re home.”
With that being said, your job as students and fans isn’t over. Continue to show you have pride in the nation’s best home streak and continue to make Huskie Stadium a tough place to play.