2011 Huskie Football Timeline

December 13 & 18

Dave Doeren, a 16-year collegiate coaching veteran whose teams played in eight bowl games and two national championship contests, was introduced as the 21st head football coach in Northern Illinois University history.  Doeren came to NIU after five seasons at the University of Wisconsin where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2008-10 after spending his first two seasons in Madison as the Badgers co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Five days later, the 2010 NIU football team defeated Fresno State in dominating fashion in the Humanitarian Bowl. The Huskies beat the Bulldogs, 40-17, behind quarterback Chandler Harnish who passed for a season-best 300 yards on 17-of-27 passing and ran for 72 yards on 10 carries. Harnish rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another on his way to game MVP honors as the Huskies won their 11th game of the season.

September 3, 2011

Dave Doeren didn’t have to wait long to record his first career head coaching victory as the Huskies rolled to a 49-26 victory over the Black Knights of Army in the season opener at Huskie Stadium.  The game couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for NIU as the Huskie defense held Army to a three and out on its first possession. Jimmie Ward blocked the ensuing punt and Courtney Stephen scooped up the loose ball and ran in for the first score of the season. Jasmin Hopkins rushed for a game-high 138 yards on 14 carries, while Chandler Harnish threw for 195 yards on 12-of-19 passing and five touchdowns.

October 8, 2011

After losing three of its previous four games and opening Mid-American Conference play with a loss to Central Michigan, Northern Illinois earned its first conference win of the season and started the Huskies’ nine-game winning streak with a 40-10 victory over Kent State. NIU’s defense turned in a dominating effort with defensive lineman Nabal Jefferson setting the tone in the first quarter when he intercepted a Kent State screen pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.  The NIU defense forced three turnovers on the afternoon and held the Golden Flashes to 64 yards of total offense. The victory was the start of the Huskies’ nine-game winning streak.

October 15, 2011

Northern Illinois’ contest with Western Michigan was a game that separated the contender from the pretender in the Mid-American Conference West Division. After NIU fell behind 15-7 midway through the second quarter, the Huskie offense rattled off 44 unanswered points, including 24 in the third quarter, to post a decisive 51-22 victory over the Broncos. Quarterback Chandler Harnish rushed for 229 yards while passing for 203, becoming the 10th player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to tally 200 yards both rushing and passing in the same game.

October 22, 2011

The Huskies began a three-game road swing with a rare trip to face MAC East foe Buffalo. With 37 seconds to play in the first half, Chandler Harnish broke a 10-10 tie and put the Huskies up 17-10 on a six-yard touchdown run. A pair of third-quarter touchdowns from Jasmin Hopkins gave NIU a 31-10 lead with 22 minutes to play and the Huskies appeared to have an easy victory in hand.  Buffalo responded with a flurry in the fourth quarter as the Bulls shut down the Huskies’ offense and scored three touchdowns with the third TD coming with 14 seconds to play.  However, the Bulls’ extra point attempt sailed wide left and the Huskies escaped UB Stadium with a 31-30 victory.

November 1, 2011

In a game that would eventually decide the MAC West Champion, Northern Illinois and Toledo traded blows in what would become one of the top games in the country in 2011, and in MAC history. In the end, the Huskies outlasted the Rockets, 63-60, when Chandler Harnish threw his sixth touchdown pass of the game, a four-yard completion to Perez Ashford with 19 seconds left, for the game-winning score.

Huskie freshman Tommylee Lewis provided all the offense Northern Illinois would need to start the game as he ran the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown. After a Toledo score tied the game at 7-7 minutes later, Lewis brought back the next kickoff 95 yards to give the Huskies a 14-7 lead to set the NIU school record and tie the NCAA mark for kickoff return scores in a game.

November 15, 2011

With the score tied 38-38 and eight seconds remaining, sophomore Mathew Sims drilled a 34-yard field goal for his first career game-winning kick to give Northern Illinois a 41-38 victory over Ball State at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies rallied from a 17-point third-quarter deficit, outscoring the Cardinals, 27-7 in the fourth quarter. Chandler Harnish set a school record with 519 yards of total offense with 181 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries and 338 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

December 2, 2011

Northern Illinois University won its first MAC Championship in 28 years in dramatic fashion when Mathew Sims drilled a 33-yard field goal as time expired, completing a 20-point comeback, and giving the Huskies a 23-20 victory over Ohio.  Trailing 20-0 at halftime, Nathan Palmer put the Huskies on the scoreboard with a 39-yard touchdown reception from Chandler Harnish in the third quarter. With the score 20-13, Palmer’s second touchdown tied the contest at 20-20 with 2:52 left to play. The Huskie defense forced a Bobcat punt on the ensuing possession, setting the stage for Sims’ heroics. As the kick sailed through the uprights, a raucous Huskie celebration spilled onto the field. Palmer earned Most Valuable Player honors with 115 receiving yards and two scores on four catches.

December 6, 2011

Senior quarterback Chandler Harnish was in New York City representing NIU at the 54th Annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria. He earned one of 16 2011 NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards, joining an elite group of student-athletes chosen from across all divisions of college football for their combined athletic, academic and leadership skills. Harnish, who already earned his bachelor’s degree in business at NIU, will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship from the NFF.

January 8, 2012

NIU’s 19 seniors and their young teammates put an exclamation point on a championship season and secured their legacy with a 38-20 victory over Sun Belt Champion Arkansas State in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl.  Once again, the Huskies found themselves trailing by double digits – this time by a 13-0 score – before storming back to score 31 unanswered points en route to the win. With Chandler Harnish temporarily sidelined by injury, back up quarterback Jordan Lynch scored the Huskies’ go-ahead touchdown on a three-yard run after a seven-play, 78-yard drive.

Harnish returned to lead the Huskies on a 10-play, 43-yard drive to give NIU a 21-13 halftime advantage. He connected with Martel Moore on a 43-yard TD pass to give the Huskies a 28-13 lead, while Dechane Durante secured the victory by returning his third interception of the season 36 yards for a touchdown. The Huskie seniors left NIU as the most successful senior class in school history with 35 wins, including back-to-back 11-win seasons, and four consecutive bowl trips.