Career passing yards for Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who played his final game as a Bobcat in St. Petersburg on Monday. A two-star recruit from Norman, Okla., who chose Ohio over offers from FCS powers Northern Iowa and Sam Houston State, Tettleton and his backfield mate, fellow Norman product Beau Blankenship, defined Ohio's football program for almost half a decade.
Ohio had been to just three bowls before Tettleton's arrival, but including his redshirt year, he took part in five of them, and he started for the last three. He was the engine for the Bobcats' first-ever bowl win, a dramatic comeback over Utah State in Boise in 2011, and he was phenomenal in Ohio's destruction of ULM in Shreveport in 2012. In his three years as a starter, Ohio went 26-13, and for a program that was devoid of huge seasons before his arrival, that speaks volumes.
At the same time, Tettleton really didn't improve very much. A shaky offensive line didn't help, but his passer rating sank from 148.9 as a sophomore to 141.2 as a junior and 138.8 as a senior. He threw 12 interceptions in 2013, a career high, and with Ohio facing a turn of momentum midway through the fourth quarter of Monday's loss to ECU in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, he suffered from some serious glitches in his decision-making.
On third-and-six, he ran out of bounds to take a six-yard sack instead of throwing the ball away. After ECU scored to take an 11-point lead, he was intercepted by Damon Magazu on an ill-advised pass. Given a lifeline (an ECU three-and-out), he threw an even worse pass that was picked off by Brandon Williams. ECU scored on a 24-yard touchdown drive, and that was that. On the final 12 pass attempts of his college football career, he went one-for-10 for three yards, with two interceptions and two sacks for a loss of 15. We don't always get the fairy tale ending, even at Tropicana Field.
Tettleton will easily go down as one of Ohio's best-ever quarterbacks, but I'm not sure Ohio will actually miss his play too terribly much. After a second straight late-season fade, the Bobcats need a little bit of new blood at the position.
Percentage of Vintavious Cooper's rushing yards that came in the first and fourth quarters. It was a tale of three games, really, and ECU won two of them. The Pirates, favored by double digits, quickly jumped out to a 14-0 lead, thanks in part to two huge Cooper carries; his first two touches of the game went for 73 yards, and he finished the first quarter with six carries for 90 yards. He added three more explosive carries in the game's final 10 minutes, as ECU was outscoring Ohio by a 20-0 margin.
So ECU outscored Ohio, 34-0, in the first 15 minutes and last 10, and Cooper rushed 14 times for 164 yards. In the 35 minutes in between, Cooper was held to 34 yards on 11 carries, and Ohio outscored the Pirates, 20-3.
Granted, Vick almost waited too long to throw it. And granted, Foster had to slow down considerably to reel it in. But when the speed-option play-fake works, it works.
It left plenty of margin for error, and it encapsulated the game's middle 30 minutes for ECU. THe Pirates lost their edge after taking a 14-0 lead, and while the Bobcats could have folded, they did not. They took control of the game physically, began to dominate ECU's mostly horizontal passing game, took a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter, pulled off the most simple, effective surprise onside kick you'll ever see, and looked poised to take control of the game altogether.
(Yeah, ECU, you might want to fix that giant gaping hole at the top of your kick return unit.)
Ohio was going for the jugular, but the Bobcats' ensuing drive stalled, and Josiah Yazdani suffered his first missed field goal of the season on a 45-yard attempt with 11:08 left.
Yards gained by Ohio following Yazdani's missed field goal. Thanks in part to a couple of huge penalties -- a terrible personal foul on Ohio's Ben Russell and a perfectly fine pass interference call on Travis Carrie -- ECU drove 71 yards, and Cooper's 31-yarder gave ECU a 24-20 lead. And then Tettleton and his teammates imploded.
Following Yazdani's miss, ECU gained 112 yards on 17 plays (6.6 per play), Ohio gained 22 on 16 (1.4), and ECU went plus-2 in the turnovers department. Guess which team won.