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2023 68 Ventures Bowl Game Recap: South Alabama Jaguars 59, Eastern Michigan Eagles 10

Sometimes, you can’t win but for losing.

68 Ventures Bowl - South Alabama v Eastern Michigan Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Let me get this out of the way first: congratulations to the University of South Alabama Jaguars on the first bowl game win in their program’s history. The Jags apparently campaigned hard to play in what ended up being a home game for them and they showed why, handling Eastern Michigan by a final margin of 59-10 on Saturday night.

It was not a banner day for Eastern Michigan, was outgained by 477 total yards, failing to exceed 54 yards prior to the final quarter of action. EMU was outgained in the air by 234 yards and on the ground by 243 yards. Eastern Michigan only managed 10 first downs and I think the bulk of those were in the last few minutes of the game as they marched down to score their only touchdown. Eastern Michigan gave up the ball three times while causing just one turnover. About the only positive in this game for the Eagles was that they were about equal in time of possession.

The opening drive was almost a shape of things to come as the Jaguars were almost able to march the ball down the field at will, but the Eagles managed to hold them to a field goal on that drive. But Eastern’s offense once again sputtered out of the garage, with three three-and-outs and a quarterback change due to injury on the first three drives. The Eagles were not so lucky on the next drive as the Jaguars marched down the field to make it 10-0 on a Desmond Trotter pitch to DJ Thomas-Jones from five yards out. South Alabama would trot out third-string freshman QB Gio Lopez on the next drive, and the Huntsville, Alabama native would make it 17-0 at the end of the first quarter on a five-yard pass Jamaal Pritchett, capping a drive which featured Lopez rushing for 34 yards and tossing a swing pass to Braylon “Bam” McReynolds for 19 yards.

Eastern Michigan found their way to the scoreboard on a Jesus Gomez field to make the score 17-3, making good on a Joe Sparacio interception. After that it was all South Alabama to make the score 59-3 at the end of the third quarter. It looked like it was going to stay there until Eastern Michigan scored on a Cam’Ron McCoy rush to make the final score 59-10.

If it weren’t for the last minute touchdown by the Eagles, the Jaguars would have been tied for the second largest margin of victory in a bowl game. The largest margin of victory is 58 and that was in last year’s National Championship game when Georgia defeated TCU by a score of 65 to 7. Interestingly enough, one of the games that this would have tied with was when Bowling Green was defeated by Tulsa in a prior iteration of this bowl.

With the loss, EMU ends the season at 6-7, snapping a two-game win streak to qualify for the postseason. South Alabama finishes the season at 7-6.