Ohio defensive lineman Kent Berger (97) and offensive lineman Austen Pleasants (60) hold the trophy with linebacker Evan Croutch (47) after the 27-0 win over San Diego State at the Frisco Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo | Richard W. Rodriguez)

Ohio Football: Ouellette, defense lead Ohio to victory in Frisco Bowl

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FRISCO, TEXAS – Five of Ohio’s first six plays went to Ohio running back A.J. Ouellette. The game script called for a lot of No. 45 and Ouellette delivered.

In his final act in the Green and White, Ouellette led the Ohio Bobcats (9-4) to a 27-0 win over the San Diego State Aztecs (7-5) Wednesday night in the DXL Frisco Bowl.

After what could’ve been two long touchdown passes, Ouellette caught a dump pass from Nathan Rourke on third and 10 late in the first half, tip-toed down the sideline and turned what should’ve been a 3rd down stop into an 18-yard gain. After the play, he let out an emphatic scream because he knew he kept the drive alive.

His extra effort paid off the very next play. Rourke found the end zone for the second time in the first half on the ground – a 11-yard quarterback scramble that put Ohio up 17-0 at the break.

Ouellette led a methodical approach on offense for Ohio – the Bobcats only had four possessions in the first half, largely due to Ohio keeping it on the ground. Ohio ran 38 plays in the first half – 25 runs that saw Ohio dominant the time of possession.

Ouellette had over 100 yards from scrimmage in the first half – with there being rainy conditions in Frisco, Ohio chose the ground attack to get them to the end zone. Rourke had both rushing touchdowns for the Bobcats in the first half.

Ohio running back A.J. Ouellette (45) tries to evade a tackle by San Diego State safety Tariq Thompson (14) in the second half of the Frisco Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)


Ohio was able to grind a way offensively because the Ohio defense delivered one of the best performances of the season. For the first time in program history (12 bowl appearances) the Bobcats pitched a shutout.

The Aztecs completed just two passes in the first half from two different quarterbacks. Christian Chapman was benched for Ryan Agnew in the second quarter, but it made no difference for the San Diego State offense — the Ohio defense suffocated the Aztecs all night

Ohio came into the game with 30 forced turnovers – second best in the nation. And while, the defense didn’t need to make a lot of plays in this game, they did force turnover No. 31 – A Sam McKnight fumble recovery on the Aztecs only trip to the red zone, which was as close as the Aztecs got to scoring. No. 32 sealed the program’s first shutout in a bowl game.

The offense then put the bow on their nicely gifted win with a 35-yard flea-flicker to a wide-open Andrew Meyer to put the game completely out of a reach. Rourke capped off another strong year with 250 total yards and three touchdowns. Ouellette finished with  164 yards rushing – four of his final five games as a Bobcat saw him reach the century mark.

It was a dominant showing in the Frisco Bowl for Ohio to close out a strong three-game stretch to the 2018 season. Back-to-back 9-4 seasons and bowl victories have Ohio’s program trending up once again for the 2019 season.

The one thing alluding this team and the program for 50 years is a Mid-American Conference Championship. Quarterback Nathan Rourke and Safety Javon Hagan head a group that will be eager to end that drought next year.

But for now, one of the most decorated senior classes in Ohio ends their careers with a trip to Detroit, 36 wins, four 8-plus win seasons, two bowl game wins and a gatorade bath for Frank Solich. And for that, fans of the Green and White say, “Thank you.”