Case Keenum is putting on a passing clinic at the TicketCity Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. After guiding the Cougars to their third scoring drive of the game, Keenum is 17-23 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns, a startling stat line for a Penn State defense not used to conceding that kind of yardage in an entire game, let alone one quarter of play.
Meanwhile, Penn State continues to struggle offensively. Quarterback Rob Bolden just led the Nittany Lions to a fourth-straight 3-and-out to start the game. Wide receiver Bill Belton was deployed as a wildcat quarterback for the first time on second down, but went almost no where. A Bolden incompletion on third down led to another Penn State punt.
Keenum takes over at the Houston 37-yardline and drives the Cougars down to the Lions' 28-yardline as the first quarter ends. After a rush for a first down to open the second quarter, Keenum is halted by the Penn State defense, though, and Matt Hogan is forced to come on for a 37-yard field goal, which he misses to keep the score 17-0.
With the ball back in hand, Bolden hits tight end Kevin Haplea for a first down, Penn State's first of the game. Devon Smith is smothered on an end-around on the next set of downs, though, and a deep ball to Derek Moye falls incomplete to force a 3rd-and-13. Bolden misses Moye again, and Penn State punts...again.
The second down pass to Moye was a good one by Bolden. Moye simply dropped it. As a senior playing in his final game and hoping to be selected in the NFL Draft, that's a play Moye needs to make.
Houston gets the ball back near its 30-yardline and Penn State forces a 3-and-out. The Lions' defense looks like its beginning to figure this offense out a little bit. This forces a punt which Justin Brown brings back 93 yards and a touchdown for Penn State. A review rules he stepped out of bounds at the Houston 33-yardline. Regardless, it was electrifying stuff from Brown who appeared trapped inside his own 10 when he caught the ball.
Back on offense, Penn State picks up a first down on a run by Stephfon Green, but Bolden is sacked for a loss of eight yards on the ensuing second down play. Bolden comes right back, though, and hits Smith for 43-yards down the near sideline down to the Houston 20-yardline.
Silas Redd picks up a first down at the Houston 5-yardline and Penn State finishes off the drive with direct snap to Green, who scores a 5-yard touchdown.
Penn Ste is back in the game, now down 17-7 with 5:57 left in the first half.