Penn State uses dominant run game, timely turnovers to win Cotton Bowl 53-39

Nittany Nation

DALLAS, Tx. (WTAJ) – The 10th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions ran for a school record 391 yards in a bowl game to propel them in a shootout win over 17th ranked Memphis, 53-39.

First Quarter:

Penn State received the opening kickoff and proceeded to go 3-and-out.

Memphis breaks a big one of 40 yards on their second play of the drive, moving the ball into Penn State territory. Memphis puts the ball into the redzone, until Big Ten Linebacker of the Year Micah Parsons blows up a reverse for a 10 yard loss. Riley Patterson ends the drive with a 48 yard field goal. Drive covered 11 plays 58 yards in 2:59. Memphis 3 Penn State 0 – 10:52 1st quarter.

Penn State answers quickly on their ensuing drive. Sean Clifford finds Jahan Dotson and K.J. Hamler to put the Nittany Lions into Memphis territory. Journey Brown then breaks through what seems like the whole Tiger defense, into the endzone for a 32 yard TD run. 3 plays, 75 yards in less than a minute and Penn State takes the lead over Memphis 7-3. 9:56 left in the 1st quarter.

Tigers respond with a 2:16 75 yard scoring drive in 6 plays. Patrick Taylor scores on a 3 yard TD run. The big play coming on 3rd-and-8 at the Memphis 27 when Brady White found Kedarian Jones behind the defense for 56 yards. Memphis 10 Penn State 7 – 7:44 1st quarter.

Penn State’s defense providing no resistance to Memphis’ offense. After another 3-and-out by the Nittany Lion offense, Memphis goes right down the field again, but a holding call kills the momentum of the drive. Riley Patterson connects from 37 yards capping a 10 play 40 yard 3:37 drive. Memphis 13 Penn State 7 – 2:55 1st quarter.

1st quarter ends with Memphis holding a 13-7 lead. Tigers outgain Penn State 184-93.


Second Quarter:

Penn State forces Memphis to punt for the first time today. Nittany Lions get good field position after a poor Tiger punt. Penn State proceeds to march right into the endzone. Sean Clifford with a run on third down to keep the drive alive, K.J. Hamler flies right by his man on a swing route, but steps out at the one yard line. Noah Cain would punch it in a play later, capping an 8 play, 45 yard in 3:27. Penn State 14 Memphis 13 – 11:14 2nd quarter.

The Nittany Lion defense finally shows some life. Micah Parsons and Yetur Gross-Matos put Brady White on the ground. Memphis proceeds to shank a punt 26 yards, giving Penn State the ball at the Tiger 32.

Nittany Lions start to flex their muscles. Sean Clifford picks up 17 yards with a run, then finds Pat Frieremuth leaking out in the flat for a gain down to the 2 yard line. Devyn Ford scores a play later and Penn State leads it now 21-13 with 7:47 left until halftime.

Penn State forces another punt, and on the first play of the next Nittany Lion drive, Journey Brown busts one for 56 yards and touchdown. Penn State 28 Memphis 13 – 5:51 2nd quarter.

Memphis answers with an impressive drive of their own, with the Tigers running back Kenneth Gainwell punching it in from one yard out to cut Penn State’s lead to 28-20 with 3:15 left in the second quarter.

Penn State responds with another touchdown drive, capped off by a Sean Clifford four yard touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson. Penn State leads 35-20 with 51 seconds left in the half.

Right before the half, Memphis moves the ball down the field, and knocks in a 44 yard field goal as time expires. Penn State leads at the half, 35-23.


Third Quarter:

Memphis comes out on fire, picking up several chunk plays en route to a one yard touchdown run by Brady White. Penn State leads 35 to 30 with 12:16 left in the third quarter.

After a Sean Clifford interception, Memphis cashes in with a 51 yard field goal to trim Penn State’s lead to 35-33 with 10:24 left in the third quarter.

Penn State would respond on their next possession, with a Jake Pinegar 44 yard field goal. Penn State extended its lead to 38-33 with 7:13 left in the third quarter.

Memphis would move the ball down the field on their next possession, but the drive would stall and Penn State forces a field goal. Memphis kicker Riley Patterson knocks in a 41 yard field goal to cut Penn State’s lead to 38-36 with 3:32 left in the third quarter.

After Penn State is stopped on a fourth down run play, Penn State’s Garrett Taylor intercepts a pass and runs it in from 15 yards out for a touchdown. Penn State extends their lead to 45-36 with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

At the end of the third quarter, Penn State leads 45-36.


Memphis responds on their next drive, moving the ball down the field, but once again, Penn State’s defense holds Memphis to a field goal, this time from 42 yards. Penn State leads 45-39 with 12:01 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Penn State responds with a long drive capped off by a Noah Cain one yard touchdown run. Penn State would go for two and convert, pushing their lead to 53-39 with 6:31 left in the fourth quarter.

Penn State forces another Memphis turn over, runs out the clock for a 53-39 win in the 84th Cotton Bowl Classic. Penn State finishes the season 11-2.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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