Gio Lopez leads South Alabama to 59-10 rout of Eastern Michigan in 68 Ventures Bowl

Sat, Dec 23, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)

Gio Lopez leads South Alabama to 59-10 rout of Eastern Michigan in 68 Ventures Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Freshman Gio Lopez threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, and South Alabama trounced Eastern Michigan 59-10 in the 68 Ventures Bowl on Saturday night.

Playing on their home field at Hancock Whitney Stadium, the Jaguars (7-6) scored on their first three possessions, led 38-3 at halftime and outgained Eastern Michigan (6-7) 627 yards to 150. It was the first bowl victory for South Alabama, which joined the FBS in 2012 and had lost three previous bowl games.

Lopez split time with Desmond Trotter, who started in place of the injured Carter Bailey. Lopez completed 14 of 19 passes for 192 yards and touchdowns of 5 and 42 yards to Jamaal Pritchett and 20 yards to DJ Thomas-Jones, and ran for a 27-yard score. He led the team with 88 yards rushing.

Trotter threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Thomas-Jones and ran for a 3-yard TD. Pritchett caught eight passes for 127 yards.

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South Alabama had the highest scoring total in program history against an FBS opponent. The Jaguars scored 55 points against both Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Miss earlier this season.

South Alabama's defense held Eastern Michigan to 6-for-20 on third and fourth down, and did not allow the Eagles to surpass 100 total yards until the final six minutes. EMU was also playing without its starting quarterback after Austin Smith entered the transfer portal.

Ike Udengwu started at quarterback for the Eagles, but freshman Cam'Ron McCoy ended up playing most of the game. McCoy completed 12 of 27 passes for 73 yards with two interceptions and rushed for 73 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown with 58 seconds left.

AWAY FROM HOME AT HOME

South Alabama was the visiting team despite playing on its home field. The Jaguars wore white jerseys and used the visitors' sideline and locker room. Their fans sat on the visiting side.

Being the home team was no help for the green-clad Eagles, who suffered their second blowout loss in Mobile in three years. Eastern Michigan lost 56-20 to Liberty in the same bowl game two years ago, when it was sponsored by LendingTree.

THE TAKEAWAY

South Alabama: The Jaguars finished with a winning record for the second straight season, a first for the school in its FBS era.

Eastern Michigan: The Eagles were non-competitive and finished with a losing record for the first time since the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when they went 2-4.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

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