SAN DIEGO – San Diego Chargers linebacker Larry English, who played in the 2006 Poinsettia Bowl for Northern Illinois, was on the sidelines Thursday night supporting the Huskies.
“They accomplished so much, going places this program has never been before,” said English, watching NIU make its sixth straight bowl appearance. “When you watch your alma mater do so well, you definitely take pride in what they’ve accomplished and what they’re doing now. I’m glad to have been a small part of that.”
English, who was the MAC’s MVP in 2007 and 2008, hosted 100 local high school students and their families at the game through his L.E.A.D. Foundation. In watching this year’s NIU team, English hoped they could soak everything in and appreciate the moment.
“This is the last meeting that this one team is going to ever have together,” said English. “They should cherish the opportunity to suit up as a group this one last time.
“These are memories they are always going to have. When I look back, those are some great times that I will never forget.”
Marked man: Chargers facilities coordinator Chuck Sandusky was watching the game from the Huskies sidelines when a game official holding a yard marker was injured on a sideline pass play early in the first quarter.
“Next man up,” said Sandusky, who picked up the yard marker – with some trepidation – as the injured official was helped to the bench.
“Who said Chuck doesn’t work.” quipped one of Sandusky’s buddies.
“There’s nowhere to go if the play comes this way,” said Sandusky, who breathed easier moments later when a Utah State drive stalled near the NIU 35-yard line. “All right. Field goal. I’m safe.”
No vote of confidence: NIU kicker Mathew Sims missed a 37-yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter. Sims stayed on sidelines with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, when NIU was looking at a 42-yard field goal attempt.
Instead, the Huskies went for it - and were stopped - on a 4th-and-3 play from Utah State’s 25-yard line.
Why go for it in that situation?
“We missed the first field goal,” NIU coach Rod Carey explained at halftime.
Sims would later miss a short 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter on 4th-and-9 with the Huskies trailing, 13-7.
Injury report: NIU defensive back Nate McNeal injured his right leg in the first quarter and was carted to the locker room for further examination. McNeal was on crutches on the sideline in the second half.
Record effort: Utah State running back Joey DeMartino busted off a 58-yard run at the end of the first quarter that broke the Poinsettia Bowl record for longest run from scrimmage. Navy’s Reggie Campbell held the mark with a 44-yard run in 2007.
Thanks for coming out: The crowd of 23,408 was the smallest in the nine-year history of the Poinsettia Bowl. Attendance was 29,709 when NIU played TCU here in 2006. A record 48,049 showed up in 2010 when San Diego State beat Navy 35-14.