In surprising fashion, the Independence Bowl was dominated from the beginning by the Ohio Bobcats as they defeated the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 45-14.
The Ohio defense was the story of the game. The group held the high-flying ULM offense in check all day.
On offense, Ohio benefited from big plays throughout much of the first half and workhorse running back Beau Blankenship later in the game.
Even though Ohio dominated in every phase of the game, it is still necessary to hand out some game grades for players on both sides of the ball.
Here are letter grades for players from all positions on the field.
Tyler Tettleton, Ohio: A-
Tettleton was one of the most impressive players on the field all day long, starting with the opening drive.
He completed 13 of 21 passes for 332 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Tettleton helped Ohio set the tone from the beginning as it led from start to finish.
Kolton Browning, ULM: D
ULM struggled all day on offense, and that was due in large part to the troubles of quarterback Kolton Browning.
He finished the game with only 219 yards and two touchdowns.
The junior threw three picks and only completed 21 of 39 passes.
It was a long day at the office for Browning and the Warhawks offense.
The Ohio Bobcats did not run the football too much in the first half, but once the second half rolled around, they dominated that aspect of the game.
Starter Beau Blankenship finished the game with an Independence Bowl-record four touchdowns to go along with 99 yards on 19 carries.
For the game, the Bobcats finished with 213 yards rushing on 39 carries. Very good numbers once again.
There is really no rushing attack to speak of when it comes to ULM with the exception of quarterback Kolton Browning.
He led the team with 52 yards rushing, but took 23 carries to do so.
Running back Mitchell Bailey only carried the ball five times for 31 yards on the day as ULM did not make much of an effort to run the ball early on.
Tavarese Maye only rushed three times for 14 yards.
The Ohio receivers beat the ULM secondary all game long, and that was one of the biggest reasons the Warhawks were no match for the Bobcats.
Sophomore wide receiver Chase Cochran only caught three passes, but they were all big gains, totaling 162 yards with a touchdown.
Fellow wide out Tyler Futrell caught five passes for 133 yards and Donte Foster had three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown.
The strength of the ULM offense is the passing game. The Warhawks were subpar against Ohio and the wide receivers just could not come up with that big play.
Brent Leonard led the way as expected with seven catches for 76 yards.
The longest play of the day was a 22-yard catch by Je'Ron Hamm.
A lack of big plays hurt ULM in this one.
Neither of these teams do much with the tight end, and they were virtually nonexistent in this game.
Ohio did not complete any passes to a tight end, but still gets a C for an overall grade because they were not really trying to.
No harm, no foul here.
Similar to Ohio, ULM does not do much with its tight ends.
There was one catch by a tight end, and that was junior Kevin Steed, who caught a one-yard touchdown pass for the final ULM score of the game.
It was only his fifth catch of the year, but his second touchdown.
It is hard to give the Ohio offense anything less than an A almost anywhere.
The offensive line is no exception. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton had all day to throw in the first half.
He dropped back to pass and could stand around until a receiver broke open. In the second half, holes opened up for the running game, thanks to the line.
They did a great job throughout.
Unlike the Ohio offensive line, the group from ULM struggled for much of the game, particularly in the second half when the Ohio defensive line started to assert itself.
The group had five sacks on the day and was in the face of Kolton Browning for the better part of the second half.
The ULM offensive line could not open up any holes for the run either.
The Ohio defensive line was one of the differences in the game. The group got stronger as the game went on.
By the end, the ULM offensive line wanted no part of the Bobcats front four.
Defensive end Tremayne Scott was an absolute monster. He picked off a pass and had two sacks. No question, he was the defensive MVP of this one.
The ULM defense did not offer much resistance to the Ohio offensive attack. The group was unable to get any pressure on Tettleton at any point in the game.
The Ohio offensive line also opened up some huge holes for running back Beau Blankenship.
The Warhawks defensive line was pushed around for most of the game.
The linebacker group for Ohio made its mark early in the game and did not look back after that.
Jelani Woseley was solid all game long as was Keith Moore, who also had an excellent game.
This group did not miss any tackles and played well all night long.
The ULM linebackers, like the rest of the defense, did not have a lot of success. They were exploited not only with the run, but also the pass.
Ohio finished the game with 556 total yards.
Needless to say, no group on the defensive unit had much of an answer for the Ohio offense.
Ohio running back Beau Blankenship was into the secondary on nearly every play before being touched.
The secondary for the Ohio Bobcats might have done the best job any secondary has done all season long on ULM quarterback Kolton Browning.
Browning was held to only 219 yards passing with three interceptions. That was the second-lowest total he has had in a game he played from start to finish this season.
The key to the game was not allowing the big play, as the longest pass play for the Warhawks was only 22 yards.
It is hard to remember a team getting beat deep as much as the ULM secondary did in this one.
The group did not have a chance from the beginning, as Ohio beat them with three straight passing plays to score on its initial drive.
Ohio wide receiver Chase Cochran beat the group deep three times by himself, and he was not the only one.
This was certainly not a good game plan by the coaching staff and awful execution by the secondary.
Special teams did not play a large part in this game, as Ohio only had to punt the ball twice and connected on its only field-goal attempt.
The Bobcats did fail on a fake field goal in the second quarter.
A blocked field goal also helped out in the second quarter when the outcome was still in doubt.
ULM not only had a field goal blocked, but also did not have the confidence at the end of the first half to kick a very short field goal with Justin Manton.
This was yet another of the areas where ULM struggled mightily.
Manton also does the punting and averaged less than 37 yards on five punts.
Frank Solich, Ohio: A
Anyone watching the game could tell that Frank Solich has coached in bowl games before.
He knew exactly what he was doing and came out with a game plan at the start of the game that set the tone for the entire day.
ULM did not expect him to throw the football as much as he did. When he came out throwing in the first half, the Warhawks were not expecting it at all.
Todd Berry, ULM: F
I am not usually one to give such a low grade, but Todd Berry looked lost out there from the start.
He made some very questionable decisions, going for a fourth-and-goal at the end of the first half when a field goal might have been a good idea and not being prepared at all for the Ohio passing attack.
He was completely out-coached in all phases and it showed.