SHREVEPORT, La. – 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,a nd 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 touchdowns.
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.
Blankenship finished with a school record 1,604 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.
VIRGINIA TECH 13, RUTGERS 10: In Orlando, Fla., Cody Journell kicked a 22-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime to lift the Hokies in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Virginia Tech (7-6) won its third straight game to avoid its first losing season since 1992.
Rutgers (9-4) had a chance to tie it in overtime, but Nick Borgese missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt to the right.
Virginia Tech trailed 10-0 at the half, then rallied in the final 30 minutes thanks to some timely turnovers and offense. Quarterback Logan Thomas struggled in the first and finished with a pair of interceptions, but also had 192 passing yards and the game’s only passing touchdown.
Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum, selected the most valuable player of the game, picked off Gary Nova’s pass early in the fourth quarter to set up the tying score – Thomas’ 21-yard pass to Corey Fuller with 10:56 left as steady rain began to fall.
BAYLOR 49, UCLA 26: In San Diego, Glasco Martin ran for three touchdowns, Nick Florence threw for two scores and ran for another, and the Bears overwhelmed the Bruins in the Holiday Bowl.
Lache Seastrunk rushed 16 times for 138 yards and one score for Baylor (8-5), which had 494 yards to 362 for UCLA (9-5).
The Bears came in leading the nation in total offense with 578.8 yards per game.
Florence completed 10 of 13 passes for 188 yards, giving him 4,309 for the season to break Robert Griffin III’s school season record of 4,293 set in 2011.