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12/28/2012 7:15 PM EST
Ohio whips ULM 45-14 to win Independence Bowl
OHIO 45, UL MONROE 14

By DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer

SHREVEPORT, La. (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
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.



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 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.



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."



-----



Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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