EL PASO, Texas – The Sun Bowl Association is now accepting applications for the 2022-23 Sun Court.
Applications are available online at sunbowl.org or can be picked up at the SBA office, located at 4150 Pinnacle Street, Suite 100 in El Paso, Texas. The deadline to apply is Saturday, June 18, 2022 by 5 p.m. (MT). All interviews will be held on Saturday, July 9 beginning at 9 a.m. at the SBA offices.
The El Paso area will be represented by the city’s young women to serve as community ambassadors during all Sun Bowl events including the Sun Bowl Parade on Thanksgiving morning and the Tony the Tiger football game on December 30, 2022.
“The Sun Court has been an integral part of the Sun Bowl Association for over 85 years and they serve the purpose of being ambassadors for the Sun Bowl Association and the City of El Paso.,” Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “We look forward to selecting the best possible candidates to fill the Sun Court and continuing this storied tradition.”
The Sun Court dates back to 1935 when organizers planned the event as a companion to the first Sun Bowl game. This is a great time for young women to promote their city and to volunteer as community ambassadors. Contestants are selected based on poise, personality, communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to demonstrate knowledge of El Paso and all Sun Bowl Association events. Participants must be full-time students at a college or university and in good academic standing.
For questions, please contact the Sun Bowl Association Office at (915) 533-4416 or email email@example.com
Eligibility and Rules:
•A female between the ages of 18-22 (as of Sept. 1) and have completed one year of college
•Have not been married and have not had any children
•Must be enrolled as a full-time student taking a minimum of 12 academic hours or full time in a graduate program
•A cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (Transcript must be included with application)
•Sun Princesses may not hold any other title during the time they are members of the Sun Court (i.e. Miss El Paso, Miss Texas, etc…)
•Responsible for their own transportation costs to attend mandatory events
Application/Submission Process: Official application, an official transcript, a ONE-PAGE resume, a color head shot no larger than 5×7, and an essay (500 words or less) telling us about yourself; include school activities and awards, community involvement, employment and why you want to be a part of the Sun Court. Applications can be submitted electronically or can be dropped off at the Sun Bowl Association office (4150 Pinnacle Street, Suite 100, El Paso, Texas). Electronic Submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story ran in the El Paso Times on April 15, 2022
Written by Bret Bloomquist
Photo by Ivan Aguirre
Bernie Olivas’ name is royalty in the El Paso sports world, but only once did he try to flex it.
In 2001, when he was high up in the Sun Bowl organization that he is now executive director of, an internship in UTEP’s sports information department opened. He felt his daughter Angela, then a UTEP student and the mother of a 3-year-old girl, would be perfect for it.
He called the athletic department’s senior women’s administrator, Stephanie Rempe, to lobby, something he had never done before and hasn’t done since.
“I know everybody over there; I’ll call somebody,” Olivas recalls. "I talked to Stephanie. I told her my daughter needs an internship — do you have any room? She said, ‘I did, but I already hired somebody.’ "
Rempe said she’d keep his daughter’s name in mind for next time, and by the way, what was that name?
“That’s who I hired!” Rempe said.
Go-getter from the start.
As it turns out, a few days earlier, Rempe spoke to one of Angela’s journalism classes, mentioned there was an internship open in the athletic communications department and “I literally chased her out the door; I got up and left class to talk to her,” Angela Olivas said.
“She was so eager to work, to learn the profession,” said Rempe, now the executive deputy athletic director and chief operating officer in the LSU athletic department. "She was so excited about it, so hungry. She got better the more she learned, and she learned quickly.
“That’s such a neat family.”
It is one that can aptly be called the First Family of El Paso sports. As the executive director of the Sun Bowl since Sept. 10, 2001, the 68-year-old Bernie Olivas is the driving force behind El Paso’s defining sports event.
Angela Olivas, 44, has been the senior director of marketing and communications for the El Paso Chihuahuas since their inception in 2014 (she was one of their first hires in 2013) and recently took that position for the Locomotive as well.
That daughter who was 3 when Olivas was hired for the fateful internship that launched her career is 24-year-old Elizabeth Vega. Vega now works for her mother as the manager for marketing and digital strategies for the Locomotive, a club she has been with since its inception in 2019 when she started as an intern.
There is an inevitability to three generations of Olivases making such an impact in El Paso sports, though not because Bernie strong-armed his daughter and granddaughter into the life or greased the wheels for their ascent.
The members of this royal family made their rise because of merit, ability and a love of their profession that drove everything they did.
That started with Bernie, though he was following in the footsteps of his brother Sal, now a member of New Mexico State’s Athletic Hall of Fame who led the NCAA in passing as a quarterback in 1967.
Sal taught Bernie how to score baseball and softball, and by age 12 he was an official scorer for the Catholic Youth Organization softball league, making $1 a game. Not incidentally, that was Angela’s age when she started scoring Diocese of El Paso basketball games.
Vega quips she was 12 when she started serving as an unofficial intern for UTEP athletics, though the truth is Vega’s start in the UTEP athletic communications department came substantially younger than that.
“My entire family was athletic,” Bernie Olivas said of his childhood. “I’ve always said if Title IX had been around when my (five) sisters were growing up, they would have all played college sports.”
Bernie did, as a receiver for UTEP, then went straight into a career as a coach at his alma mater Cathedral, where he founded the baseball program in 1976 (a year before Angela was born) and took the basketball team to two state championship games. After the Irish lost by a point in 1981, he went into the pharmaceutical business, but still felt the siren call of sports.
He called the Sun Bowl offices in 1983 and soon enough was volunteering on a host committee. He worked his way up through the ranks to president, then when executive director Joyce Feinberg resigned to work for El Paso mayor Ray Salazar in 2001, Olivas ascended to the top. He got that job on Sept. 10, “the day before the world changed,” Olivas recalls.
Oddly, that wasn’t a position he aspired to until, as president of the Sun Bowl Committee, he was hiring for executive director and realized he had the perfect resume.
“Not until it happened,” Olivas said. “Somebody asked me, is this a dream come true? No, because I had never dreamed of doing this. Timing is everything.”
Along the way he became the official scorer for the El Paso Diablos, a job he passed off to his understudy Angela in 2005. She had been working for the Diablos in various game-day capacities since she was 16.
By then, Angela’s full-time job was in the UTEP sports information department, a position she was promoted to from her internship in 2001 and also in the same time frame when her father became executive director of the Sun Bowl.
“Angela was a real go-getter,” said Jeff Darby, the associate athletic director at UTEP who was her boss in the sports information department. "She called me up and set up a meeting. She didn’t mind working for free and she worked her butt off.
“She earned everything she got. She got promoted because she earned it. She came in as a volunteer worker, she left as an assistant AD.”
“I fell in love with it right away,” Angela said of that job. "It was exciting, it was fun. It was the adrenaline rush of being a small part of something that’s big. I had great mentors, Jeff Darby, Trent Hillburn, Charles Staniszewski. They took someone who didn’t know anything about sports information, a new mom coming out of college, and they gave me as much as I could grasp.
“And I asked for more. I just started climbing the ladder.”
Angela was never pushed toward sports, and in fact her younger sister Teresa is a physical therapist.
“People grow up two different ways,” Bernie Olivas said. "Some parents push their kids to be what they want them to be. Then there’s the way, let them do what they want to be, then push them to be the best.
“I think I took the right route. I didn’t push them to get into sports, I didn’t push them to get into athletics, whatever they chose, I wanted them to be the best at what they chose. I think it worked out well.”
Vega also wasn’t pushed toward sports, but she was immersed in it from the time she was able to run errands.
“Jeff Darby let me raise Lizzy at the office,” Olivas said. “It was picking her up at 3 o’clock, then she’d be my runner at basketball games. She’d be in her little St. Patrick’s (Elementary) uniform handing out stat sheets. I’d send her down to development to stuff envelopes. ‘Lizzy, go see what marketing has for you.’”
Vega remembers that fondly.
“I was there after school, on the weekends,” she said. "Mom would pick me up from school and we’d go to a softball game. Instead of going to play with friends I’d go to a football game and sit with the stat people and media people.
“I never really questioned it because that was my life. I’m grateful for it now, I wouldn’t be where I am: a love of sports, this career, without being raised in that environment. I never thought about, ’I’m going to do sports marketing,’ because I never considered doing anything else.
“I was primed to do this. I literately grew up in the sports industry. It’s different than the way other kids are raised, but I wouldn’t change it.”
Angela Olivas’ life changed again in 2013 when MountainStar Sports Group bought the Triple A baseball team that moved from Tucson and became the Chihuahuas.
She wanted a job with them so badly she didn’t tell anyone in her family she was applying for fear it wouldn’t pan out. It did; she’s the only communications director the franchise has had.
“She’s such a professional,” said Chihuahuas general manager Brad Taylor, who first met Olivas when they were both interviewing for jobs. "She’s the first one to volunteer on any community project. She’s completely immersed in what we stand for.
“They aren’t just three generations, they are three great people. I’ve gotten to know Bernie, I’ve worked with Angela since I started and now I’m getting to know Lizzy. It’s not just generational, they are all good at what they do.”
The Locomotive set up their offices in 2018 and in a family tradition, Vega was first in line to apply for an internship in the marketing department and quick to work her way up. Along the way she picked up her MBA from UTEP and earned the promotion to manager, working for her mother.
“It’s so cool, and not just because they’re mother and daughter and colleagues,” Locomotive general manager Andrew Forest said. "They are so professional. I couldn’t be more proud of Lizzy, the way she and her mother work together is so professional.
“Lizzy is so eager to learn and her mother has so much to teach her. To have three generations like them, this city is in good hands. Lizzy didn’t get the job because of charity because of who her mom and grandfather are, she got it because she’s talented and good.”
Vega loves working for her mother.
“I don’t think it’s weird, it’s been really easy and I don’t think a lot of people expected that to happen,” she said. "Because I grew up in her office, it’s like going back to 10 years ago when I was always bothering her and asking her questions. Now it’s work related. “The only hard part for me, yes she’s my mom, yes he’s my grandpa, so maybe people might assume I got the job I got because of them and not because of my own hard work. That’s the one thing that’s a nuisance. I’ve put in the hours, I want this for myself.”
Angela Olivas relates.
“I completely understand that, I was the same way,” she said. “It’s hard to get out from under, ’You’re Bernie’s daughter.’”
Obviously, though, being Bernie’s daughter is a source of pride.
“I’m blessed to have a mentor in my dad,” Angela Olivas said. "To follow in his footsteps and have somebody to look up to is amazing. I can just call and ask opinions and I do. It’s awesome to be able to show Lizzy, to be her boss, and say it’s cool you can be better than me.
“That’s what I hope for her, that she excels more than I could. I got into this late, she got into it early. The possibilities for her are endless.”
Said Vega: "I think coming from two generations of people in the sports industry, you have a lot of pressure to meet expectations and exceed expectations, but at the end of the day I’m grateful for that. Bernie Olivas, an icon in the sports industry, Angela Olivas, an icon in the sports industry, in the city but also nationwide.
“The fact that that’s my family, my grandpa and my mom, I’m the luckiest person ever.”
El Paso has been lucky to have all three of them.
Bret Bloomquist can be reached at email@example.com; @Bretbloomquist on Twitter.
Link to El Paso Times: https://www.elpasotimes.com/sports/
EL PASO, Texas – The Sun Bowl Association along with Bowl Season announced that Jimmy Rogers Jr. was inducted into the Bowl Season Leadership Hall of Fame at the Annual Bowl Season meetings, which was held in Orlando, Fla. during the week of April 11.
The Bowl Season Leadership Hall of Fame recognizes individuals or groups who, through their actions have contributed significantly to College Football Bowl organizations specifically, and to the entire bowl system in general. It also commemorates the history and tradition of college football bowl games by saluting the people who devoted themselves to furthering the benefits of bowl games for the advancement of their communities and college football.
“Few have been as devoted to the Sun Bowl and college football as Mr. Jimmy Rogers Jr.,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas. “The impact he has made here in El Paso and around the college football scene has been extraordinary.”
Rogers had been a part of the Sun Bowl Association Board of Directors for more than 50 years. He was a part of the move from Kidd Field (at 15,000-seat stadium) to Sun Bowl Stadium, which opened in 1963 with a capacity of 30,000. He worked hard to help get Sun Bowl Stadium’s expansion, which was paid for by the University of Texas System in 1983, a process that took a decade to see through.
Rogers has been through the lean years and seen the game flourish. He has always been someone who has given back to his community, a place he cherishes, El Paso.
His first recollection of the Sun Bowl was in the game’s infancy. It was 1940 and the Border Conference champion New Mexico Lobos squared off with the Big Seven Conference champion Utah Utes. A seed had been planted.
In a past interview Rogers said, “I went to my first game in 1940 and I also remember the University of Mexico playing the military team from Southwestern University (in 1945). We went to every parade growing up. I started riding in the Sun Bowl Parade on horseback with the Sheriff’s Posse in about 1950. I think I rode in about 20 parades on horseback.”
Jimmy’s father, James Rogers, Sr., was the secretary of the first board of directors of the Sun Bowl in 1934. Three quarters of a century later, the game has grown exponentially, and the Rogers family has been an integral part of the Sun Bowl.
Three generations of Rogers have given their time to El Paso’s biggest event. Jimmy’s sons Jim III and Mike have each followed in the family tradition of giving back. Mike is a past president (2011) of the Sun Bowl Association, while Jim III spent over a decade volunteering with the Sun Bowl basketball committee.
“I never pushed my boys into being a part of this, but my wife Jody and I could not be prouder of them,” said Rogers in a 2010 interview. “I think they see the importance of giving back to your community.”
Speaking of the basketball committee, Rogers and the committee implemented hospitality rooms for visiting basketball teams participating in the Sun Bowl Basketball Tournament, something not the norm back in the 1960s.
His efforts led to his involvement in hosting the visiting television networks broadcasting the Sun Bowl game – first TVS, then NBC and now CBS.
Until recent years, Rogers served as the game’s liaison with CBS Sports, a partnership that will feature its 54th consecutive broadcast on Dec. 30, 2022. Rogers and others have cultivated the relationship with CBS into the longest running relationship between a bowl and a television network. The CBS relationship is very special, very unique. They are a perfect partner, according to Rogers.
“If I look back at historic events Rogers was a part of and things that were milestones for us, probably the first things that would enter my mind are CBS Television and the car rental tax,” said Olivas when asked what he remembers most about what Mr. Rogers Jr. has accomplished. “No other bowl game has had the type of television relationship like the Sun Bowl and CBS while we cannot be more grateful to Jimmy for securing the car rental tax which helps tremendously.”
In 1986, the Sun Bowl became the first bowl game to secure a title sponsorship for a bowl game, as John Hancock Financial Services signed on to make history. The bowl would then secure sponsorships with Norwest Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Helen of Troy, Hyundai and now Kellogg’s. Title sponsorships are now a mainstay in the industry.
“The television coverage, sponsorship, the new stadium and then you look at the car rental tax, which was passed in 1997, that was huge, and we would not be where we are without it,” Olivas mentioned.
Through all of the ups and downs – the prosperity and disparity – Rogers has never given up on the Sun Bowl. He and many others have put their own backing behind something they believed in.
Rogers has truly been a advocate in the community, supporting the Sun Bowl and UTEP, where he served as president of the Touchdown Club and chairman of the UTEP Athletic Advisory Committee.
In 1989, he was inducted into the El Paso Sports Hall of Fame. Ten years later, Rogers was honored as the recipient of the Bud Dudley Bowl Executive Award for his service to the Sun Bowl and college football. That same year, he became the first volunteer named to the Legends of the Sun Bowl, the Association’s Hall of Fame.
“To me, it has always been about giving back. Nothing more,” said Rogers in a 2010 interview.
Bowl Season Executive Director mentioned, “Bowl games are one of the greatest and longest running traditions in American sports. And few people have done more for any single bowl than Jimmy Rodgers has done for the Sun Bowl. We are honored to induct Jimmy as part of this year’s Bowl Season Leadership Hall of Fame class. His leadership over the years has impacted the entire bowl system and helped make Bowl Season the celebration of college football that it is today.”
CLASS OF 2019 (Inaugural Class) – Bud Dudley, Liberty Bowl; Field Scovell, Cotton Bowl; Earnie Seiler, Orange Bowl; Warren Miller, Sugar Bowl; Fred Digby, Sugar Bowl.
CLASS OF 2020 – Mike Gottfried, Mobile Bowl; William L. Leishman, Rose Bowl; George Olsen, Gator Bowl; John Reid, Holiday and Fiesta Bowl; Chet Simmons, NBC and ESPN.
CLASS OF 2021 – Jim “Hoss” Brock, Cotton Bowl; George Crumbley, Peach Bowl; Mitch Dorger, Rose Bowl; Dan McNamara, Orange Bowl; Chuck Rohe, Citrus Bowl; Bruce Skinner, Fiesta Bowl
EL PASO, Texas, FEB. 16, 2022 — An era where a partnership between college football and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® continues as the Sun Bowl Association announced the renewal of the title sponsorship for the Tony the Tiger® Sun Bowl.
After a wonderful event in 2019 which featured Arizona State defeating Florida State, 20-14, Kellogg’s took the initiative to help the Sun Bowl Association pay gameday workers in 2020, the year the Tony the Tiger® Sun Bowl was put-off due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl received plenty of national attention as the 2021 game initially was supposed to feature Miami taking on Washington State, however Miami withdrew from participation due to COVID-19 protocols. Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas was able to find a replacement team in Central Michigan within 24 hours of the Miami Hurricanes notifying the SBA of withdrawal.
“We, at Kellogg’s, have seen how extremely invested the community of El Paso is in this game and the events that surround the game and we want to continue to be a part of it,” said Sadie Garcia, Marketing Director for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes®. “Kellogg’s has been able to take Mission Tiger™ to the schools of El Paso and we are excited to continue this partnership.”
The postseason contest features a Power-Five matchup between members of the ACC and Pac-12 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 31, 2022, and will be televised for the 55th consecutive year on CBS. The agreement between the Sun Bowl Association and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® was originally brokered by Denver-based Impression Sports & Entertainment.
The multiyear partnership is marked by Tony the Tiger® being the first mascot to lend his name to a college football bowl game. What’s more, Tony has and will continue to promote the Sun Bowl Association’s inaugural mission — helping kids play sports.
In 1935, the first-ever Sun Bowl was played to benefit underprivileged children and to finance improvements for the El Paso High School Stadium. In 2019, the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl aligned with Tony’s Mission Tiger™ initiative, raising awareness and funds for at-risk middle school sports programs through a multiyear partnership with nonprofit DonorsChoose.org. Whether a team has been eliminated, needs to upgrade training equipment or needs new uniforms, “Mission Tiger” is ready to help.
“Tony the Tiger has been dedicated to fueling active kids since 1952, and it’s a core value we share with the founders of the Sun Bowl Association,” said Fuller. “At Frosted Flakes, we believe every kid should have a chance to be able to play like a Tiger and are committed to helping keep middle school kids active in the El Paso community and beyond.”
The Sun Bowl features events throughout the week of the bowl game that celebrate the city and welcome visitors to enjoy the sense of community that comes from playing and watching football.
“Partnering with Kellogg’s over the past three years has been spectacular,” said Olivas. “The impact the company has had on our community is nothing short of amazing! From donating through Mission Tiger™ to middle schools to donating a million meals to the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, while also paying gameday employees that were supposed to work our [canceled] game in 2020; Kellogg’s and the teams we have had the privilege to work with have been second-to-none.”
In addition to the exclusive naming rights the Tony the Tiger® Sun Bowl will continue to use its fresh logo which has turned heads all across the country and amongst the bowl games. The fully integrated partnership amplifies across digital and social media, content, in-stadium exposure, product sampling and on-site activation at the game and other Sun Bowl organization events.
Follow the Tony the Tiger® Sun Bowl via social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and learn more at MissionTiger.com. For all information on the 2022 Tony the Tiger® Sun Bowl visit SunBowl.org or calling 915-533-4416.
The Sun Bowl Association is a volunteer based nonprofit 501©(3) organization. The Sun Bowl Association, with the help of over 700 volunteers, promotes and serves the El Paso community and features a year-round schedule of events, culminating with the Annual Tony the Tiger® Sun Bowl football game.
The Sun Bowl Association was founded in 1935 with a threefold purpose: 1) to present a football attraction of national importance, 2) to promote El Paso and the Southwest and 3) to generate tourist income for the area. On Oct. 18, 1934, at a meeting of the El Paso Kiwanis Club, Dr. Brice Schuller suggested that the club sponsor a football game on New Year’s Day, matching an El Paso High School All-Star Team against a worthy opponent. The motion was passed unanimously. It was decided to ask for public suggestions as to the name of this annual game, and the name “Sun Bowl” was submitted by Dr. C.M. Hendricks, who became the first president of the Sun Bowl Association.
At Kellogg Company (NYSE: K), we strive to enrich and delight the world through foods and brands that matter. Our beloved brands include Pringles®, Cheez-It®, Special K®, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes®, Pop-Tarts®, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®, Rice Krispies®, Eggo®, Mini-Wheats®, Kashi®, RXBAR® and more. Net sales in 2018 were approximately $13.5 billion, comprised principally of snacks and convenience foods like cereal and frozen foods. Kellogg brands are beloved in markets around the world. We are also a company with Heart & Soul, committed to creating Better Days for 3 billion people by the end of 2030 through our Kellogg’s® Better Days global purpose platform. Visit www.KelloggCompany.com or www.OpenforBreakfast.com.
RADIO BROADCAST by BOWL SEASON RADIO: https://youtu.be/vE7BxjazwSM
EL PASO, Texas – The Central Michigan Chippewas, replacing a Covid-stricken University of Miami team that was forced to pull out of the annual Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, made the most of their opportunity after holding on to defeat Washington State, 24-21, during the 88th edition of the game in El Paso.
The Chippewas began the week not knowing if they would even play a game after their original bowl game, the Arizona Bowl in Tucson, was canceled, also due to Covid complications, this time to Boise State.
But with the Cougars in need of an opponent, Central Michigan (9-4) made the 300-mile bus ride from Tucson to El Paso one day before gameday, got off to a 21-0 halftime lead, and then held on after a Washington State (7-6) second-half rally to win their first bowl game since 2012 and break a five-game bowl losing streak.
In doing so, the Chippewas also finished the season on a five-game winning streak after their first appearance at a Sun Bowl. The Cougars, on the other hand, suffered their first Sun Bowl defeat after winning the game during their first two appearances (2001, 2015).
Central Michigan outgained Washington State, 339 yards to 231, including logging in 149 yards on the ground. Lew Nichols III, the game’s C.M. Hendricks MVP, led the Chippewas ground charge with 109 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Daniel Richardson led the Central Michigan passing attack, finishing 14-of-27 for 175 yards and an interception. Victor Gabalis, who came in at the beginning of the second half for the Cougars, led a dramatic comeback after throwing for a couple of touchdowns and finishing with 168 passing yards.
Although, it was Washington State who seemed to be coming off a long bus ride the day before, as starting quarterback Jayden de Laura and the Cougar offense could not get anything going during the first half, especially during third downs. Washington State could only convert one of 15 third-down attempts and were also 1-of-4 on fourth down.
Central Michigan began the scoring on their third possession, a little more than halfway through the first quarter. A big 38-yard run by Nichols III helped set up a 49-yard field goal by Marshal Meeder.
Meeder followed up his long field goal with a Chippewas bowl record 52-yarder on CMU’s next possession to give the Chippewas a 6-0 lead. Meeder would be named the John H. Folmer Special Teams MVP after the game.
Central Michigan immediately got the ball back after Washington State fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Kumehnnu Gwilly jumped on the ball, giving the Chippewas the ball at the Cougar 23-yard line, and three plays later Nichols III scored from one yard out to give Central Michigan a 13-0 lead after one quater of play.
A couple of possessions later Washington State tried to get back in the game with a couple of big plays. A 38-yard pass play from De Laura to senior Calvin Jackson Jr. was followed by a 40-yard run down the right side by Nakia Watson to get the Cougars inside the red zone.
Unfortunately for WSU, a bobbled snap nullified a 30-yard field goal, and the Cougars first scoring opportunity. It was one of few opportunities for the Washington State, as they would see five of their eight first-half possessions end in 3-and-outs.
The Chippewas, on the other hand, capitalized on their opportunities and took their commanding halftime lead after Richardson hit wideout Kalil Pimpleton for a 15-yard touchdown with under two minutes remaining in the half. Pimpleton had also set up the drive nicely with a 45-yard punt return.
Central Michigan seemed to try and put the game away early in the third quarter as during its first possession of the half they drove down to the Cougar 5-yard line. But a Nichols III fumble and recovery by Washington State’s Jahad Woods gave the Cougars some life.
The Chippewas also had an interception, missed field goal and blocked field goal during the second half, keeping Washington State in the game.
The Cougars finally got on the board after an eight-play, 74-yard drive that culminated with a Travell Harris five-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation. The big play of the drive was a 55-yard pass play from Gabalis to wide receiver Lincoln Victor. The drive was also aided by a roughing the passer penalty during a fourth down pass attempt which was not completed.
After a Richardson interception on the very next play, Gabalis found freshman De’Zhaun Stribling on a fourth down, five-yard touchdown pass to cut the Chippewa lead to 21-14 near the end of the third quarter.
Washington State’s fourth-down magic did not last, however, as the Cougars turned the ball over on downs during their next two possessions. One of those possessions led to a short field for Central Michigan and the Chippewas capitalized with another Meeder field goal.
With just over three minutes left in the game, Washington State cut the lead to a field goal after a 16-yard touchdown pass from Gabalis to Victor making the score 24-21.
The Cougar defense also did its job as it forced a three-and-out during Central Michigan’s next possession to give Washington State a shot at tying or winning the game. But a fourth-down pass from Gabalis to Joey Hobert came up inches short to thwart the Cougar comeback.
This was the first appearance and victory in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl while the nine victories marks CMU’s highest win total since the 2009 team finished 12-2. CMU won eight games in 2017 and again in 2019.
“What a great win. First of all, I just want to kick this off by saying thank you to the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl for giving us an opportunity to come play a ball game. I want to thank the Arizona Bowl and Barstool Sports. They went out of their way to give us a great week down in Tucson and even after the cancellation of the game, they treated us like there was a game That tells you what a class act Barstool is and what a class act the bowl is as well. I’m just proud of these guys, proud of our team. We don’t get opportunities to play power five teams very often and to get a win – especially in a bowl game as historic as this one – I’m just really proud of our guys. On a personal note, I wish I could play the ‘Cougs’ every bowl game, I think this is the second one we’ve won against them, so I’d be alright with that. That team [Washington State], what they went through there in Pullman this year, nobody should have to go through something like that. For them to get to a bowl game and do the things they did, my hat is off to their administration, their coaching staff and their players for hanging together. At the end of the day, I’m proud of these Chippewas. I’m really happy for our fans and our administration – I found out that it’s been since 2012 that we’ve even won a bowl game. So hats off to these guys.”
FINAL SCORE: Central Michigan 24, Washington State 21
C.M. Hendricks MVP: Lew Nichols III (Central Michigan – RB)
Jimmy Rogers Jr. Most Valuable Lineman: Ron Stone Jr. (Washington State – DE)
John Folmer Special Teams MVP: Marshall Meeder (Central Michigan – K)
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