By David Brandt
The Associated Press
SHREVEPORT, La. — With Tyler Tettleton softening the Louisiana-Monroe defense early, running back and Tettleton’s former Norman North teammate Beau Blankenship provided the power offense to seal the game, rushing for 104 yards and an Independence Bowl record four touchdowns.
The final pass of 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.
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.
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