DeKALB – Take a second to appreciate what you witnessed Tuesday night at Huskie Stadium, Northern Illinois fans.
Chandler Harnish showed everything that he’s capable of in a come-from-behind, 41-38 victory against Ball State.
He ran for 181 yards, threw for 338 more, broke a school record for career touchdown passes and career rushing yards for a quarterback and I’m almost certain I saw him shuttling elderly ladies to their seats before the game.
Harnish is the best quarterback in the Mid-American Conference and either the first- or second-best quarterback in school history, right next to George Bork.
In an era of justified cynicism and skepticism, Harnish has somehow stood above it, representing the university and community with class and dignity.
And, oh yeah, his teams win. A lot.
His performance not only Tuesday (a third-straight 100-plus yard rushing game) but throughout his career, makes it all the more baffling that 12,391 fans were in the stands at Huskie Stadium, and a good number of students left at halftime.
Forget for a minute that this NIU team is one home victory against Eastern Michigan from a return trip to Detroit for the MAC title game, or that this is one of the most entertaining quick-strike offenses in the country.
A once-in-a-generation talent is leading this team, and 12k show up?
Yes, the midweek MAC schedule is atrocious for getting fans to the stadium, which by itself is a reason to discontinue the practice. But there wasn’t a blizzard in DeKalb on Tuesday.
It was cold, but not freezing. The game didn’t start right after work or right after school. First place in the MAC still was on the line for the Huskies. This is a team, and a quarterback, worth the effort.
The second half alone, when the Huskies erased a 31-14 deficit and then a 38-35 fourth-quarter deficit proved that.
At the center of it, though he’ll be the first one to say it was his line, or running back Jasmin Hopkins, or receiver Martel Moore, was Harnish, who kept making plays, kept making the right decision and kept NIU’s season alive.
He has one game left in DeKalb. Why would you miss it?
• John Sahly is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JSahly