Northwestern’s home football season kicked off with a second annual Evanston Day on Sept. 10, complete with an earlier pep rally, purple hydrants and purple fountains. Between the festivities off and around the field, the Wildcats crushed an overmatched Eastern Illinois team 42 – 21.
At the pep rally head football coach Pat Fitzgerald praised his team as a group of student athletes the University and the City can be proud of. Earlier, at a July meeting of season ticket holders, he called recruiting “overrated” and said Northwestern players will not be found in the police blotter. Instead, he said, he looks for players who roll up their sleeves and play team football. The team shows up on the field, with three consecutive bowl appearances, and in the classroom, leading the conference and among the best in the nation in graduation rate. They also give back to the community said Coach Fitz.
Eastern Illinois was no match. NU rolled up over 300 yards rushing and coasted to victory behind quarterback Kane Colter’s three touchdowns.
Between the first and second quarters, Evanston’s elected officials were recognized on the field with seven aldermen.
It was also high school name day and at halftime 13 high school bands from near and as far away as Wisconsin and Minnesota joined NUMB on the field. The combined bands of hundreds of high-schoolers performed a 300-horn rendition of Cee Lo. Green’s infectious song before transitioning to “God bless America.”
The traditional “hands in the air” cheer between the third and fourth quarter was led by fire chief Greg Klaiber and the Fire Station Three crew by video screen.