SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Things were going so well for Ohio that quarterback Tyler Tettleton was cracking jokes in the huddle by the end of the game.
It was that kind of afternoon for the Bobcats, who did nearly everything right in a dominant 45-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Friday in the Independence Bowl.
And it was also a satisfying ending to a roller coaster season for Ohio, which started the season on a seven-game winning streak and briefly jumped into the AP Top 25 rankings before a rash of injuries and inconsistent play caused the Bobcats to lose four of their last five regular-season games.
But thanks to Tettleton, Beau Blankenship and Chase Cochran, Ohio (9-4) was able to finish what it started on Friday.
"It was a fun season and we were enjoying ourselves, and then some things happened and we just weren't playing at a level that we felt we should be and we all pressed," Solich said. "The players pressed and the coaches pressed, so I'm glad we were able to get back to enjoying the game and having some fun with it."
Tettleton's early heroics staked the Bobcats (9-4) to an early 14-0 lead and Louisiana-Monroe was never 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.
Ohio broke several Independence Bowl records, including the 31-point margin of victory and 556 total yards. The Bobcats have won two straight bowl games.
"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.
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.