Cougars' Keenum scorches Lions
Penn State wide receiver Devon Smith reacts to a Houston touchdown Monday in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas. Houston won the game, 30-14.
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DALLAS -- Case Keenum turned Penn State's secondary into his personal playground.
Houston's record-setting quarterback completed 45 of 69 passes for 532 yards and three touchdowns Monday as No. 20 Houston routed No. 24 Penn State, 30-14, in the TicketCity Bowl.
Keenum, named the game's MVP, broke the NCAA record for most passing yards in a quarter (227), and set Cotton Bowl Stadium records for most plays in a game (76), total yards (542), passing attempts and completions.
Penn State, which lost three of its final four games, couldn't slow down the Cougars' no-huddle offense due to Keenum's quick release.
"He has a good arm," said Penn State outside linebacker Nate Stupar, who had a team-high 12 tackles. "He can put the ball where he wants. He's very smart and an excellent quarterback. I would have to say as a pocket passer, NFL-style quarterback, he is the best I have ever faced."
Keenum, the NCAA career leader in passing yardage and touchdowns, tossed first-half scoring strikes of 40 and 75 yards to wide receiver Patrick Edwards and an 8-yarder to Justin Johnson.
It helped the Cougars (13-1) build a 24-7 halftime lead against Penn State (9-4) in front of 46,817 fans in the 92,000-seat stadium.
Keenum, the ninth player in NCAA history to throw for more than 500 yards in a bowl game, finished 30 of 46 for 380 yards in the first half.
His 227 passing yards in the first quarter eclipsed the previous NCAA mark of 223 yards set by Louisville's Browning Nagle in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.
"Before the game, we knew we were going to throw the ball a bunch and talked about breaking records. During the game we didn't," Keenum said. "Honestly, we left a lot out there. There were some throws that I missed. I think we executed when we needed to."
Keenum's 45 completions and 69 attempts were the most against Penn State in a bowl game. BYU's Ty Detmer completed 42 passes in the 1989 Holiday Bowl and Oregon's Danny O'Neil attempted 61 passes in the '95 Rose Bowl.
Edwards finished with 10 catches for 228 yards and two touchdowns and Johnson had 12 receptions for 148 yards and a score. Matt Hogan also converted 3 of 5 field-goal attempts for the Cougars, hitting from 35, 38 and 22 yards.
"I was disappointed in the way we played," Penn State interim coach Tom Bradley said. "I thought we'd play better defensively. I didn't anticipate us giving up those big plays."
The Nittany Lions lost strong safety Drew Astorino and backup cornerback Adrian Amos to concussions in the game, as well as backup defensive end Sean Stanley to a dislocated elbow. And All-American defensive tackle Devon Still was hobbled throughout with a turf-toe injury.
Consequently, Penn State dropped consecutive bowl games for the first time since losing the '75 Sugar Bowl and the '76 Gator Bowl.
Backup tailback Stephfon Green scored on a 6-yard run in the second quarter after taking a direct snap from center while lined up beside quarterback Rob Bolden in the backfield.
And Bolden, starting in place of Matt McGloin, who was out with a concussion, tossed his first touchdown pass since Sept. 24 in the third quarter -- a 69-yard strike to wide receiver Justin Brown -- to pull Penn State to within 27-14.
But Bolden finished just 7 of 26 for 137 yards and threw three second-half interceptions. Houston's defense dropped three other potential interceptions, including two that likely would have went for touchdowns.
"We just didn't execute," Bolden said. "We had chances. We had balls in the air we didn't come down with, throws that weren't made. We had open holes that we just didn't get. It was just hit and miss."
Twenty-three seniors suited up for Penn State for the final time, including wide receiver Derek Moye from Rochester High School and free safety Nick Sukay from Greensburg Central Catholic.
"We obviously didn't want to go out that way, with a loss like that," Sukay said.
Most of the current staff, including Bradley, likely worked their final game.
A six-person search committee, led by acting athletic director Dave Joyner, has been searching for a new coach since Paterno was dismissed 56 days ago and replaced by Bradley, who addressed his team after the game.
"I told them to stick together as a team," he said. "They're always going to be teammates for the rest of their life, be proud of what they did accomplish. I said, 'Hey, we have a lot to be thankful for, and we said a prayer.'"
First Published January 3, 2012 12:00 am