Seniors, redemption motivating NIU versus WMU

Huskies look for first nine-win season since 2014 with victory over the Broncos on Senior Night


Courtesy of Nick LoVerde

Redshirt senior linebacker Lance Deveaux Jr. rushes Buffalo junior quarterback Matt Myers in NIU’s game against Buffalo on Nov. 17. Deveaux finished with 11 tackles, including a tackle for a loss.

By James Krause

DeKALB — Even with a Mid-American Conference championship spot clinched, the Huskies have goals to reach in their regular season finale game against the Western Michigan University Broncos on Tuesday.

With a victory over WMU, NIU can avenge each of their six losses from last season before playing for the MAC Championship on Dec. 4.

“We’ve got a meeting tonight where I’m going to remind the team of what their goals were before the season,” head coach Thomas Hammock said. “Some of those goals are still attainable, and I want them to focus on these things they said were important to them.”

NIU secured their place in the MAC championship game with an overtime victory over the University at Buffalo Bulls on Wednesday, allowing the Huskies to breath easy entering a matchup that won’t affect their standing in the title game.

Still, redshirt junior tight end Liam Soraghan said they aren’t looking ahead with a chance to end their season with redemption of a heartbreaking 30-27 loss last season.

“This week is important for us,” Soraghan said. “Even though we already clinched the division, we still want to win this game more than anything. Since we have a chance to beat everyone (we lost to last season) this is a game we aren’t taking lightly.”

The game Tuesday will be the final home game in the careers of seven seniors who will be honored over the course. Hammock expressed how much the seniors staying committed to the program and each other means to him.

“I’ve never been around a closer team in my career,” Hammock said. “What you see is a group of guys, players and coaches, who are in it and playing for each other. They play for, work for and are committed to each other…Senior day is a big deal for the guys who have stayed here and been committed.”

The team’s first meetings Friday night will break down how to handle redshirt sophomore quarterback Kaleb Eleby. The 2020 All-MAC third team selection leads the conference in passing yards with 2,777. Eleby has 16 touchdowns passes, including three in the Broncos 44-41 upset victory over the University of Pittsburgh on Sept. 18.

“(Eleby) has elite arm talent,” Hammock said. “He can make every throw. They run a great system that caters to him and his ability to put the ball in spots for his receivers can make plays.”

Along with Eleby, the Broncos have the MAC leader in receptions in sophomore wide receiver Skyy Moore. Moore has 79 receptions this season, 1,050 receptions yards and five touchdown catches.

Kickoff between the Huskies and Broncos is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Huskie Stadium. The game will be aired nationally on ESPNU.