ATHENS, OHIO – Covington grad A.J. Ouellette followed his breakout game a week ago against Idaho by showcasing another dimension to his game in a stellar performance against Eastern Illinois on Saturday. The true freshman from Ohio University torched the Panthers for 92 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns in leading the Bobcats to a 34-19 win in his first career start.
“It felt like every other game,” said an always modest Ouellette as he answered questions from the media after the game. “I didn’t really notice that I was the first running back in there, but I just did my job, I guess.”
To the amazement of many, Ouellette burst through the line and outran everyone on a 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, showcasing the breakaway speed many didn’t realize he had.
“I didn’t know he was this fast,” said Dustin Fox, during the live broadcast of the game by ESPN. “Just a combination of athleticism, speed, physicality, breaks tackles, shows his burst down the field. Much faster than I thought.”
To Ouellette, it was business as usual and really a credit to the guys up front for opening a huge hole.
“It was just something I read,” he explained. “The guy I was suppose to read told me to go backside, and I guess they had a defensive breakdown and no one was in their hole.”
Prior to Ouellette’s 65-yard burst, he pounded the Panther defense with body blows, grinding out tough yards up the middle.
This led to his first touchdown of the game early in the first quarter on a one-yard plunge.
“AJ got a lot of tough yardage,” said Ohio University head coach Frank Solich. “He had the one big run and played very well for his first start.”
Behind the running of Ouellette and the decision making of redshirt sophomore quarterback JD Sprague, the Bobcats built a 24-10 halftime lead.
Unfortunately for Ouellette, his afternoon ended early in the third quarter as he sprained his ankle hurdling a defender in an attempt to gain extra yards.
It was a scary sight seeing Ouellette hop off the field, rejecting the assistance from other players.
Fortunately the injury wasn’t serious.
“[It’s] good,” Ouellette said of the ankle. “They (the coaches) just told me not to go back in for precautionary reasons, I guess.”
Solich confirmed that Ouellette will be fine.
“He got banged up a little bit, rolled his ankle,” Solich explained. “But he was able to come back later. We did not bring him back in, but he should be fine for the next game.”
With Ohio University standing a 3-2 on the season and 2-0 in games where Ouellette has been the featured back, Bobcat fans still haven’t seen the entire arsenal of A.J. Ouellette.
But they are learning how to pronounce his last name – O-let.