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2022 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Game Recap: Eastern Michigan Eagles 41, San Jose State Spartans 27

It’s been 35 years, but Eastern Michigan finally wins their second bowl game.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Eastern Michigan v San Jose State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

The number one song of the year for 1987 was “The Way it Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. The highest grossing movie of 1987 was “Beverly Hills Cop II”, while the Academy Award for Best Picture for 1987 going to “Platoon”. Our intrepid writer/photographer was a freshman at Eastern Michigan. That was also the year that Eastern Michigan won its first bowl game.

Much has happened in the 35 years since.

After 1987, Eastern Michigan had a couple more successful years under Coach Harkema and then would find itself wallowing at the bottom of college football. Sure, there were some bright spots in that time, but there were many, many, many more dark spots. Then Eastern Michigan hired Chris Creighton.

His start at Eastern Michigan was pretty rocky. It was starting to look like he would be another person going from a bright start in Ypsilanti to out of coaching in the drop of a hat, but then something happened, as Eastern Michigan started to turn the ship around and spook some teams.

Soon, the spooking turned into competing, and the competing turned to winning. Fast forward to the present day, and Eastern Michigan has gone to a bowl game in four out of six years. We knew it would be a matter of time before a postseaosn trophy would come back home, and it finally happened on Tuesday afternoon.

It looked like this was going to be a blow out in the first six-and-a-half minutes. San Jose State scored two touchdowns in that span thanks to a 27-yard run by Chevan Cordiero on their first possession and a Justin Lockhart touchdown reception to take advantage of an EMU lost fumble to go up 13-0.

But then something happened.

San Jose State lined up for the extra point, and EMU, which came into the game as one of the best kick block units in the country, got the necessary penetration and blocked the attempt. Not only was it blocked, it was also returned, with Tristen Hines taking it all the way back for a two point conversion, putting the score at 13-2.

Eastern Michigan’s Samson Evans would score the next touchdown to put the score at 13-9 near the end of the first quarter. On the ensuing drive, it appeared that San Jose State would score another to make it 20-9, but Eastern picked up a key fourth-down stop at their own four-yard line, turning it around for a 96-yard scoring drive to make it 16-13 in favor of the Eagles on a Darius Lassiter touchdown reception from Taylor Powell.

Two straight interceptions by the EMU defense, including one on a trick WR pass play, would result in two EMU touchdown drives, with Evans and Lassiter adding once more to their accounts to put the Eagles up 30-13.

Eastern Michigan would start the second half with a field goal by Jesus Gomez to make it 33-13. San Jose State had other ideas, as they capped a 75-yard drive with a pass from Chevan Cordiero to Nick Nash to make it 33-20. Eastern Michigan more or less seal the deal with a drive finished by a 31-yard run from Jaylon Jackson, putting the score at 41-20 after a successful two-point try with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.

Isaiah Hamilton hauled in a touchdown pass from Cordiero to bring the tally within two touchdowns again, but a third Eastern Michigan interception, this time by Russell Vaden IV would effectively kill the Spartan rally once and for all late in the fourth quarter.

I had this feeling when Eastern Michigan drew San Jose State as an opponent that the magic would happen, and they would win their second bowl game. I’m glad that I was proved right.

As for what next season holds? We’ll see. But for now, the Eagles are flying high.

For now, the Eagles can fly high
Kenneth Bailey