Ohio whips ULM to win Independence Bowl

SHREVEPORT (AP) — The final pass of Tyler Tettleton's dizzying early-game onslaught was beautiful — a 68-yard touchdown heave

to Chase Cochran over two defenders.

Ohio coach Frank Solich couldn't have designed a better beginning to a football game. And the end result — a dominant 45-14

victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl on Friday — wasn't too bad either.

"It was probably as complete of ballgame as

we've played in some time," Solich said. "I think our guys played with

great intensity

and a great deal of heart. We showed we can play a great game

against a really good team like Louisiana-Monroe."

Tettleton's early heroics staked the Bobcats

(9-4) to an early 14-0 lead and Louisiana-Monroe was never really able

to gain

its footing. During the two early touchdown drives, Tettleton

completed all five of his passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

He finished 14 of 22 passing for 331 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

"We knew we were going up against a great front seven, so our game plan was to take some shots down field and let our playmakers

make plays," Tettleton said.

They certainly did. Cochran caught three

passes for 162 yards while Tyler Futrell had five receptions for 133

yards. With

Tettleton softening the Louisiana-Monroe defense early, running

back Beau Blankenship provided the power offense to seal the

game, rushing for 104 yards and an Independence Bowl record four


Tettleton was especially sharp in the first half, completing 9 of 14 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns as Ohio built

a 24-7 lead.

Louisiana-Monroe (8-5) struggled in its first bowl game after 19 seasons in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Kolton Browning

completed 21 of 39 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw three first-half interceptions.

Ohio broke several Independence Bowl records, including the 31-point margin of victory and 556 total yards.

Ohio lost four of five games to end the regular season — including the last three — but looked crisp in a complete performance

against the Warhawks.

Tettleton's 2012 season had been a slight

disappointment considering the huge numbers he put up the year before as

a sophomore,

but his performance against Louisiana-Monroe was a reminder of how

good he can be. He averaged more than 23 yards per completion.

Blankenship finished with a school record 1,604 yards rushing yards this season and topped the 100-yard mark for the 10th

time. All four of his touchdown runs came from 2 yards out or less.

Louisiana-Monroe came into Friday's game

with the better storyline and basically a home-field advantage. The

Warhawks were

playing in their first bowl game after joining college football's

highest level in 1994 and secured a bid in Shreveport, which

is only about 100 miles from their campus.

But that emotional lift didn't help ULM's defense, which was torched by Tettleton's deep ball accuracy early and Blankenship's

hard running late.

Tettleton needed just three passes to lead Ohio to its first touchdown. He hit Futrell on a 26-yard gain and Cochran on a

51-yard strike before finding Donte Foster for the 3-yard score.

A few minutes later, Tettleton hit Cochran perfectly in stride for the 68-yarder that gave the Bobcats a 14-0 lead.

Louisiana-Monroe briefly showed some life early in the second quarter when Browning's 14-yard touchdown pass to Tavarese Maye

cut the margin to 14-7.

But Ohio came right back, using Matt Weller's 38-yard field goal and Blankenship's 2-yard touchdown run to push ahead 24-7

with 4:50 left in the second quarter. Blankenship's touchdown run was set up by Browning's third interception of the first


Louisiana-Monroe had a chance to cut into

the deficit just before halftime, but coach Todd Berry's gamble to go

for a touchdown

instead of a short field goal backfired when Browning's final pass

of the half sailed harmlessly out the back of the end zone.

Berry's gamble wasn't a surprise — the

Warhawks had gained a reputation for unorthodox play-calling during

their record-setting

season. But nothing seemed to work against the Bobcats, and the

large ULM fan contingent had mostly disappeared from the stands

by the end of the third quarter.

It was a disappointing ending for the

Warhawks, who started the season with a stunning overtime victory over

Arkansas in Fayetteville,

Ark., and still finished with the best season in school history

since moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

"This will get us back to work," Berry said. "I would have liked it to have been a little cleaner. But I also recognize the

opportunities for this football team next year. This will add fuel to the fire. We will have a great offseason because of

what happened today and that's what we're going to use. This group will rally."