Northern Star



NIU ALumni

Northern Star

Northern Illinois University’s student news organization since 1899


Ensure student journalism survives. Donate today.

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies set to battle Southern rival in home opener

Previewing NIU football’s matchup with SIU
Gaelen Morse
Redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi searching for a target against Boston College on Sept. 2. The Huskies defeated the Eagles in overtime 27-24. (Gaelen Morse | NIU Athletics)

DeKALB – On the heels of a road overtime victory against the Boston College Eagles in week one, NIU football (1-0) hosts the Southern Illinois University Salukis (1-0) in the 2023 home opener. 

Despite never trailing in regulation in week one, the Huskies found themselves down 24-21 in overtime in Chestnut Hill before redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi rushed for the game-winning touchdown, securing a 27-24 Huskies win. 

“It’s always good to start the season off with a victory, especially on the road,” said NIU head football coach Thomas Hammock. “The great thing about that game was we can play so much better.”

Southern Illinois also came out victorious in week one with a 49-23 rout over Austin Peay University. The Salukis led by as many as 39 points, and senior quarterback Nic Baker completed 16 of his 23 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns. 

“Southern (Illinois) is a dynamic offense,” Hammock said. “They have speed in space. They have a bunch of guys that can make you miss – the receivers, the running back, the quarterback. We have to have all hands on deck from a defensive standpoint, but also offensively we have to make sure we do our job. We have to score points this week.”

Junior fullback Brock Lampe had a strong week one performance, rushing for 14 yards and one touchdown and catching two passes for 28 yards. 

“I like to show that I can catch the ball in space, run the ball, be physical, block – do tight end things,” Lampe said. “I take a lot of pride in being able to do a lot of things for our offense.” 

Junior safety Nate Valcarcel is making his first home start for NIU on Saturday. 

“I can’t wait for the home opener,” Valcarcel said. “There’s gonna be a big crowd, lots of my family and friends are coming so I think it’s going to be a great environment. This year is our year, so I can’t wait to see you guys out there.” 

The Huskies take on Southern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Huskie Stadium. The game will be streamed on ESPN+, and live stats will be available via SideArm Stats.

“I’m very excited to be at home this week, ”said redshirt junior offensive lineman J.J. Lippe. “It’s always fun to have a home game, and we hope the Huskie fans come out and be rowdy.” 

More to Discover