Though he spent most of his day blocking, Eastern Michigan flanker Craig Ostrander knew he could get open when he needed to. All he had to do was convince his coach, Jim Harkema.
That time came with 3:59 to play, when quarterback Ron Adams completed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Ostrander to give the underdog Hurons a 30-27 victory over San Jose State in the California Bowl Saturday.
"Ostrander was telling me all day he could get open, so we went with it," Harkema said. "Probably it was a good guess."
Adams said he and Ostrander knew they could complete the pass against San Jose's left cornerback, Phil Frasch.
"We weren't throwing much, but we knew 23 (Frasch) was the weak link in their secondary and could be beat," Adams said.
Adams threw only 12 times, completing 7 for 100 yards, while Spartans quarterback Mike Perez completed 26 of 39 for 290 yards.
But the Hurons chewed up the clock with a steady ground attack, holding the ball for 36:47 to San Jose's 23:13. Tailback Gary Patton led the running attack with 130 yards.
"Most of our problem was trying to take the ball away from them," said San Jose State Coach Claude Gilbert.
He thought that Eastern Michigan's success in controlling the ball "took away from our patience. . . . It forced us to be impatient."
The victory by the Hurons (10-2) ended a string of three straight one-sided losses by Mid-American Conference representatives.
The Spartans, of the host Pacific Coast Athletic Assn., had been favored by up to 17 points to win their second straight California Bowl.
But Eastern Michigan scored on its first possession. Glennard Smith returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to the San Jose State 42, and the Hurons drove to the 1, where Bob Foster dived over for the score.
Spartan tailback Kenny Jackson tied the game with a six-yard off-tackle slant for a touchdown, but a 42-yard field goal by Tim Henneghan put the Hurons on top, 10-7, at the end of the first quarter.
Foster scored again on a one-yard plunge early in the second quarter for a 17-7 lead. But after the Spartans (10-2) were stopped on one goal-line stand, they scored on their next possession when fullback James Saxon took a pitchout and completed a one-yard pass to Bill Klump.
Perez then put the Spartans ahead, 21-17, late in the third quarter with a 12-yard pass to Johnny Johnson.
Eastern Michigan regained the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter on Patton's 15-yard touchdown run. But Saxon gave San Jose State the lead for the final time with a 16-yard run.
The Spartans had one last chance, but were stopped in Eastern Michigan territory on fourth and three with 2:10 to go. The Hurons then ran out the clock.