Ohio wins Independence Bowl, 45-14

SHREVEPORT, La. — Tyler Tettleton threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, Beau Blankenship scored four touchdowns, and Ohio cruised to a 45-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe at the Independence Bowl on Friday.

Chase Cochran caught three passes for 162 yards and a touchdown as the Bobcats (9-4) won their second straight bowl game. Blankenship’s four rushing touchdowns set an Independence Bowl record. He added 104 yards rushing.

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 finished 14 of 22 and 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 Tyler Futrell on a 26-yard gain and Chase 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 a 68-yard touchdown 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 half.

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.

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