EditorsNote: Changes Brown’s TD run to 56 yards, not 67; minor edits throughout
Journey Brown rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns as No. 10 Penn State used a punishing ground attack to muscle past No. 17 Memphis 53-39 on Saturday to win the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
The Nittany Lions (11-2) racked up 396 of their 529 total yards on the ground, with Noah Cain adding 92 yards and two scores on 15 carries. Penn State averaged 7.5 yards per rush on 53 attempts.
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons had 14 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles in a dominating defensive performance.
Brady White passed for 454 yards to lead Memphis (12-2), with eight of those passes going to Damonte Coxie for 132 yards.
It was the highest-scoring Cotton Bowl ever.
Memphis received three field goals from Riley Patterson in the first half. The Tigers also banked a 3-yard touchdown run by Patrick Taylor and a 1-yard scoring plunge from Kenneth Gainwell in the half.
Penn State had plenty of answers, however.
Brown had a scintillating 32-yard touchdown run to begin the Nittany Lions’ scoring, and Cain’s 1-yard scoring burst gave Penn State a 14-13 lead with 11:14 remaining in the second quarter.
Deyvn Ford’s 2-yard scoring run on the Nittany Lions’ ensuing possession stretched the lead to 21-13 before Brown ripped off a 56-yard touchdown run to move the advantage to 28-13.
Penn State added a 4-yard touchdown pass from Sean Clifford to Jahan Dotson on its final drive of the first half, after which the Nittany Lions led 35-23.
White’s 1-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the third quarter cut the Penn State lead to 35-30. Patterson added a Cotton Bowl-record 51-yard field goal early in the quarter.
Penn State’s Jake Pinegar and Patterson traded field goals from 45 and 41 yards, respectively, through the middle of the third quarter. The Nittany Lions’ defense then produced a touchdown on Garrett Taylor’s 15-yard interception return in the final minute of the quarter.
Patterson’s Cotton Bowl-record sixth field goal, from 42 yards, cut the lead to 45-39 with 12:01 to play. But Cain’s second touchdown on the ground, a 1-yarder with 6:31 left, ended the Tigers’ hopes.
—Field Level Media