Photo courtesy of Houston Athletics
NCAA FOOTBALL BOWLS PAGE
(Sports Network) - Case Keenum ended his record-breaking collegiate career with an exclamation point, completing 45-of-69 passes for 532 yards and three touchdowns in the 20th-ranked Houston Cougars' 30-14 victory over the 24th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl.
Keenum ends his career as the NCAA's career leader in passing yardage, total offense, touchdown passes and touchdowns accounted for.
Houston (13-1), which came into the game with a 1-9 mark in its last 10 bowl appearances, gave Tony Levine a victory in his head coaching debut. Levine became the head man after Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M.
Patrick Edwards caught nine passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars, who set a school record with 13 wins this season. The 13 victories is the most ever by a Conference USA member.
Rob Bolden connected on 7-of-26 passes for 137 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for the Nittany Lions (9-4), who were playing in their 28th January bowl game. Bolden played in place of Matt McGloin, who suffered a concussion in a post-practice tussle with wide receiver Curtis Drake in mid- December.
The fight was just a minor incident in a season that saw legendary coach Joe Paterno go down in flames. Paterno was fired in November for his role surrounding the sexual assault allegations levied against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, thus propelling defensive coordinator Tom Bradley into the role of interim head coach.
Bradley guided Penn State to a 1-3 record, but his status for next season is uncertain.
Penn State played its first bowl game without Paterno as head coach since the 1962 Gator Bowl.
Houston scored a touchdown on the game's opening possession and never looked back. Keenum got things going with a 39-yard pass to Edwards on third down. Faced with a 3rd-and-13 from the PSU 40, Keenum lofted a nice pass down the left sideline for Edwards, who jogged into the end zone.
Matt Hogan added a 35-yard field goal after Penn State went three-and-out on offense.
The Cougars continued to score while the Nittany Lions struggled on offense. A 26-yard catch by Edwards led to Justin Johnson's eight-yard TD catch, which made it 17-0 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter.
After Hogan missed a 37-yard field goal early in the second period, Penn State picked up its initial first down of the game. Kevin Haplea caught a 12-yard pass, but the Nittany Lions were forced to punt again.
Following a three-and-out from Houston, Justin Brown seemed to return a punt for a touchdown. Upon further review, Brown stepped out at the PSU 33 for a 26-yard return. Penn State did find the end zone, though, thanks to Devon Smith's 43-yard catch. Stephfon Green capped the nine-play drive with a six- yard TD run.
The momentum quickly shifted back to the Cougars. A broken coverage by PSU's defense led to Keenum and Edwards hooking up for a 75-yard score and 24-7 lead with 1:43 to go.
Hogan missed a 50-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Hogan made a 38-yard field goal with 4:21 left in the third quarter to make it a 27-7 contest.
The Nittany Lions responded with a touchdown just three plays into their next drive. On 3rd-and-16, Bolden hooked up with Brown for a 69-yard score.
Hogan added a 22-yard field goal early in the fourth frame to give Houston a 30-14 margin.
Bolden was intercepted twice in the final period.