Ohio 24, Utah St. 23
Tyler Tettleton’s late heroics helped Ohio erase decades of
misery in the postseason.
The sophomore calmly led a 61-yard drive in the final 2:02 and
scored on a 1-yard keeper with 13 seconds left to give Ohio its
first bowl victory, 24-23 over Utah State on Saturday in the Famous
Idaho Potato Bowl.
Ohio had been winless in five bowl appearances, including
setbacks the last two seasons.
But Tettleton changed all that, going 3 of 4 passing in the
final drive, including a 14-yard completion to LaVon Brazill on
fourth down to give Ohio a first down inside the 1 with 37 seconds
After getting stuffed on his first attempt to punch the ball in,
Tettleton rolled right on the next play and outran two defenders to
cap the comeback and set a new course for Ohio’s postseason
”There’s been a lot of great wins here, and I appreciate every
one,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. ”This one obviously is kind
of an answer to what these guys wanted to get done at the beginning
of the year, and what we all wanted in terms of winning a bowl
game. To accomplish that and get the first win in the history of
Ohio football was meaningful to me, these players and this
The victory also gave Ohio its first 10-win season since 1968
and helped blunt the bitterness of letting Northern Illinois rally
from a 20-point deficit in the Mid-American Conference title game
two weeks ago.
Tettleton, the son of former major league catcher Mickey
Tettleton, was effective throughout the game and kept the Bobcats
close enough with his legs and arm.
Tettleton was 19 of 26 passing for 220 yards and two touchdowns
and rushed 16 times for 31 yards. He was only sacked twice and
spread his completions around to seven receivers and the Bobcats
had 345 total yards on offense.
For Utah State, the loss was a heartbreaker.
The Aggies dominated the first half and extended their lead to
23-10 in the third quarter behind a bruising rushing attack that
kept Tettleton off the field and rolled up 345 yards. The Aggies
came into the game with the nation’s sixth-best rushing attack,
averaging 277 yards per game.
Michael Smith rushed for a career-best 157 yards and two
touchdowns on 12 carries, including a 63-yard scoring run early in
the third quarter that put Utah State up 16-10. Smith scored later
in the third on an 11-yard run up the middle, giving the Aggies
(7-6) a 13-point lead.
Robert Turbin added for 101 yards on 20 carries, and Kerwynn
Williams had 69 yards on nine carries.
But Utah State, which finished second in the Western Athletic
Conference and was making its first bowl appearance since 1997,
failed to close the deal and paid a price for missing two scoring
chances early in the game.
On their first possession, the Aggies (7-6) drove to the 1, but
Turbin was stopped short of the goal line on fourth down. The
Aggies missed another chance late in the second quarter when a
39-yard field-goal attempt by Josh Thompson sailed wide right.
Still, head coach Gary Andersen, whose team closed the season
with five straight wins to earn the school’s first bowl invitation
since 1997, believes there is plenty to feel good about and even
more to build upon.
”It’s been the most gratifying season of my career, hands
down,” Andersen said. ”This is unbelievably gratifying to get to
this point. This crew of kids will be in my mind for the rest of my
life. We’re excited to represent all three classes of seniors that
have been there. Tonight was for them, and we’ll look forward to
The Aggies had a chance to ice the game when they took
possession at their own 7 with 4:23 to go. But Ohio’s defense
stopped the Aggies on three straight running plays to force a
On the winning drive, Tettleton scrambled for 14 yards and
completed passes of 19, 7 and 14 yards to Brazill. The last
reception was initially ruled a touchdown, but a review concluded
he was down before the end zone, giving Ohio a first down inside
the 1 and setting up Tettleton’s big play.
”It was designed as a fake quarterback sneak and we were going
to have two guys on the flat to the left,” Tettleton said about
his last-second score. ”I got a rush up the middle and tried to
make something happen after that and I was wide open to the end
Brazill, who was voted MVP for the game, led the Bobcats with
eight catches for 108 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown pass
from Tettleton that pulled Ohio to 23-17 with 3:45 left in the
The Aggies had just two possessions in the fourth quarter, but
managed just two first downs, putting the onus on a defense that
had let leads slip away in the last minute in games against Auburn
and Brigham Young.
”This season has been a grind. Pretty much every single game
we’ve played in has been a close game,” Turbin said.
”Unfortunately, you win some and you lose some and we lost