WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Jason Onyebuagu thought he was headed to Purdue after his time at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Ind.
So did running back Chad Spann while he played at North Central High in Indianapolis. Chandler Harnish thought the same while he was at Norwell High in Bluffton, Ind.
"That's the one thing I thought my whole high school career was that was where I was probably going to end up," said Harnish, who added that the Boilermakers did spend time recruiting him.
All of them waited for a call that never came and then they ended up at Northern Illinois, making Saturday's 28-21 victory at Purdue an even sweeter feeling.
"Going back here and wishing you could have played here, it's a good feeling winning here," said Onyebuagu, NIU's left guard that keyed more than a few blocks for a potent rushing game that totaled 280 yards.
Running back Justin Anderson, who ran for a critical first down on a fake punt late in the fourth quarter, spoke with Onyebuagu before the game about the guard's return to his home state and his relationship with Purdue in high school.
"I was just trying to give those kids from Indiana a chance," Anderson said. "I was talking with [Onyebuagu]. He was saying [Purdue] wanted him to walk-on and they didn't give him a scholarship and he didn't like that. I kept telling him 'Are you ready? I'm going to get you a win.' "
NIU coach Jerry Kill said he was happy that Onyebuagu could play a pivotal role in getting the program's first victory against a Big Ten team since 1988.
"He's been here for five years," Kill said. "His home state is Indiana, I think he'll remember this one for a while."
Harnish had between 300 and 400 friends and family make the two-hour trip to West Lafayette, most of whom he said where cheering for the Huskies.
"It's a special feeling," he said. "I had a lot of fans, a lot of family and friends here. I can't be more proud of the way we played, though, because it wasn't about me. They did a great job, the coaches did a great job."
Spann added two more touchdowns to bring his total to seven on the season after only three games and finished with 80 rushing yards as NIU's Indiana natives could celebrate in their home state one of the biggest wins in recent memory for the Huskies.