ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ohio started slowly, and then surged into the lead. It faded in the stretch drive of the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl yesterday, making the whole game very much like the Bobcats’ season.
“That’s exactly what it felt like. We were up and down,” running back Daz’ Patterson said after a 37-20 loss to East Carolina. “We were up and down. One minute we were having a good drive, and then we were shut down by one silly play or something silly. It felt like the whole season in a nutshell.”
Vintavious Cooper rushed for a career-best 198 yards for East Carolina, setting a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl record. The Pirates (10-3) took the lead to stay on the first of Cooper’s two touchdowns runs in the fourth quarter, a 31-yard burst with just under 10 minutes left.
“A win would have made this a whole lot better,” Bobcats receiver Donte Foster said. “It would have made it very tremendous, but I felt like our guys played their hearts out.”
East Carolina’s Shane Carden passed for 273 yards and a touchdown and also caught at touchdown pass.
Cam Worthy caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Carden, and then took a lateral and threw 14 yards back to Carden for a fourth-quarter score that made it 31-20. Cooper put the Pirates well out of reach with a 22-yard touchdown run.
Tyler Tettleton and Derrius Vick threw scoring passes for Ohio (7-6), which overcame an early two-touchdown deficit to lead 20-17 before Cooper put East Carolina back in front before an announced crowd of 20,053 at Tropicana Field.
Tettleton got the Bobcats going with a 26-yard completion to Patterson on a flea-flicker, and then found Patterson for a 17-yard touchdown pass on the following play. Vick and Foster combined for an 80-yard score on Ohio’s next offensive play for the longest scoring pass in Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl history.
“They’re a very, very physical football team on the defensive side, and very strong. Generally, you’re not going to traditionally line up and just run the ball right at them and feel like you’re going to be successful,” Bobcats coach Frank Solich said. “We had to come up with ways that we felt we could continue to make plays and then hopefully have our fair share of big plays.”
Foster finished with six catches for 160 yards, being named the Bobcats’ most valuable player for the game. Tettleton was 21 of 40 for 228 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.
The Bobcats took a 20-17 lead on Josiah Yazdani’s 28-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, and then recovered an onside kick.
Eight plays later, Yazdani’s 45-yard attempt sailed wide left, and the game shifted dramatically from there.
“We didn’t convert when we had the onside kick and had a chance to put points on the board,” Solich said. “Not putting points on the board there, I think, really hurt us. That was a critical time in the game, no question about it.”