Damonte Coxie

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Penn State running game powers Nittany Lions to halftime lead on Memphis in Cotton Bowl

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Penn State has four rushing touchdowns by Journey Brown, Devyn Ford and Noah Cain, and they have needed them to own a halftime lead on Memphis in the Cotton Bowl Classic at halftime. Penn State leads the Tigers, 35-23, at halftime in Arlington.

Memphis came out flying on offense on their first few offensive possessions, and it looked as though the Tigers were going to be a pain all afternoon for the Penn State defense. That may still end up being the case in the second half, but the Tigers have gone quiet on offense after a strong showing in the first quarter. Memphis racked up over 180 yards of offense with three scoring possessions on Penn State, the most yards given up in the first quarter all season by the Nittany Lions. Breakout freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell had a 19-yard run but Penn State has otherwise held him down. Kedarian Jones had a 56-yard reception but he has just one other catch for five yards and Memphis hasn’t been able to keep the pressure downfield often enough. Memphis did get a late score to regain some confidence, and a deep pass from Brady White to Damonte Coxie, a 41-yard gain, was the key.

Sean Clifford returned to lead the Penn State offense and got off to a rocky start in the first quarter. But Clifford has contributed on the ground as well while still trying to get in a groove throwing the football. As a team, Penn State has rushed for over 200 yards.

Penn State will kick off to Memphis to start the second half. We have a good finish probably incoming in the Cotton Bowl.

No. 18 Memphis beats No. 19 Cincinnati, clinches AAC title berth vs. Cincinnati

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The Cincinnati-Memphis game was so good, they’re going to do it again at the same place next week.

The No. 19 Tigers beat the 18th-ranked Bearcats 34-24, at once clinching the American West Division title and, by virtue of the head-to-head Friday, secures home field advantage for next week’s American Championship against the East champion — which happens to be Cincinnati.

Memphis (11-1, 7-1 AAC) opened the game perfectly, as Chris Claybrooks took the opening kickoff 94 yards back for a touchdown. After a Cincinnati (10-2, 7-1 AAC) field goal, the Tigers moved 77 yards in sevens snaps and took a 14-3 lead on a 9-yard Brady White pass to Kedarian Jones at the 7:24 mark of the first quarter.

The Tigers then forced a four-and-out and moved back inside the Bearcat red zone, but the drive stalled and Mike Norvell settled for a 34-yard Riley Patterson field goal, pushing the Memphis lead to 17-3 after the first quarter.

But then Cincinnati answered, launching drives of 12 and 14 plays that traveled 85 and 80 yards and consumed 11 and a half minutes of clock. Ben Bryant‘s 4-yard pass to Leonard Taylor pulled the ‘Cats within 17-10 at the 12:36 mark of the second quarter, and Michael Warren II‘s 3-yard run with 2:54 left in the first half tied the game.

Memphis struck back quickly, though, as White found Damonte Coxie for a 54-yard gain that took the ball from the Memphis 36-yard line to the Cincinnati 10, but the drive moved no further and the Tigers settled for a second short Patterson field goal.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, though not for lack of trying. Memphis forced two Cincinnati fumbles in the third quarter, but turned them into zero points. The first was recovered at midfield but the Tiger offense went backward, punting from their own 46. One possession later, Jonathan Wilson sacked Bryant at his own 45 and ripped the ball out, allowing the Tigers to take over at the Bearcats’ 43 and drive all the way to their 16, but White’s 4th-and-2 pass to Joey Magnifico was not quite magnificent, sailing out of bounds for a turnover on downs.

Cincinnati then took over at its own 16 and moved to the Memphis 17, almost exclusively on the ground, but Warren was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 run at the 2:02 mark of the third quarter.

Still leading 20-17, Memphis pushed the lead to 10 when White found Coxie behind the defense on an end-around pass for a 46-yard score, but Cincinnati answered when Bryant hit Alec Pierce for 51 yards on a 3rd-and-15 from his own 33, pushing the ball to the Memphis 16. Bryant rushed in from 12 yards out to pull Cincinnati within 27-24 with 10:27 remaining.

After Memphis came up empty twice in the third quarter, it was now Cincinnati’s turn to create nothing out of a turnover, as Ahmad Gardner picked White at the Bearcats’ 26, but Cincinnati immediately went three-and-out.

Cincinnati should have answered with its own three-and-out, but a White incompletion was nullified by an unsportsmanlike conduct flag against Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders, and three plays later Antonio Gibson raced in a 29-yard touchdown carry, giving Memphis a 10-point lead with 3:16 to play. The Bearcats were then forced to pass, which was not part of the plan with their backup quarterback, and Bryant was intercepted by Blake Sanchez, Jr., near midfield with 1:35 left.

The win pushed Memphis into the American Championship for the third straight season. Norvell’s team lost to an undefeated UCF team in 2017-18, but next Saturday’s game will be the first time the Tigers get to play for the conference championship at the Liberty Bowl.

No. 18 Memphis leads No. 19 Cincinnati in potential AAC Championship prequel

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No. 18 Memphis leads No. 19 Cincinnati 20-17 at the half at the Liberty Bowl, putting the Tigers halfway to their goal — of hosting Cincinnati again for the AAC Championship next Saturday. Cincinnati (10-1, 7-0 AAC) has already clinched the East Division, while a win would hand Memphis (10-1, 6-1 AAC) the West championship and home field for next week’s title game.

Memphis opened the game perfectly, as Chris Claybrooks took the opening kickoff 94 yards back for a touchdown. After a Cincinnati field goal, the Tigers moved 77 yards in sevens snaps and took a 14-3 lead on a 9-yard Brady White pass to Kedarian Jones at the 7:24 mark of the first quarter.

The Tigers then forced a four-and-out and moved back inside the Bearcat red zone, but the drive stalled and Mike Norvell settled for a 34-yard Riley Patterson field goal, pushing the Memphis lead to 17-3 after the first quarter.

But then Cincinnati answered, launching drives of 12 and 14 plays that traveled 85 and 80 yards and consumed 11 and a half minutes of clock. Ben Bryant‘s 4-yard pass to Leonard Taylor pulled the ‘Cats within 17-10 at the 12:36 mark of the second quarter, and Michael Warren II‘s 3-yard run with 2:54 left in the first half tied the game.

Memphis struck back quickly, though, as White found Damonte Coxie for a 54-yard gain that took the ball from the Memphis 36-yard line to the Cincinnati 10, but the drive moved no further and the Tigers settled for a second short Patterson field goal.

White closed the half 7-of-13 for 146 yards and a touchdown, while Bryant was 14-of-19 for 129 yards and a score. Cincinnati out-rushed Memphis, 103-80.

Cincinnati will receive to open the second half.

Big plays, second half defense lift Memphis over Navy in showdown of AAC unbeatens

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On the field and on the stat sheet, Navy dominated Memphis in the first half. The visiting Middies darn near ran the Tigers out of their own stadium, racking up 43 first-half carries for 217 yards while adding 75 yards on seven pass attempts — an even 50 plays. Memphis, meanwhile, ran 15. The Tigers totaled 69 first-half rushing yards on 10 carries, which sounds good until you realize their first carry went for 75.

But Memphis did get that 75-yard carry, a first-offensive-snap-of-the-game touchdown bolt from the aptly-named Kenneth Gainwell, and they got a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown from Gabriel Rogers. It was enough to keep the home team in the game, 20-14, at halftime, at which point the script completely flipped after the break, allowing the Tigers to pull away for a 35-23 win.

After throwing for just 29 first-half yards, Brady White came alive in the second, hitting 14-of-18 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns.

White put Memphis (4-0, 1-0 American) up for good when he found Kederian Jones for a 5-yard touchdown at the 9:05 mark of the third quarter, punctuating a drive in which the pair also hooked up for gains of 12 and 13 yards. White then gave Memphis control of the game with a 73-yard snatch-and-dash strike to Antonio Gibson, the Tigers’ longest passing play of the season. (They have three rushing plays of 70-plus yards thus far, the most in the country.)

When a 49-yard Bijan Nichols field goal pulled Navy (2-1, 1-1 American) within 28-23 with 12:17 to play, White provided the dagger, hitting Gainwell for a 13-yard gain (which turned into 28 when adding a Navy personal foul) and then Damonte Coxie for a 31-yard touchdown, capping the scoring with 11:27 to play.

After rushing for 217 first-half yards, Navy mustered just 74 yards on 23 carries after halftime. The Midshipmen entered the night as the nation’s leading rushers (371.5 yards per game) but ended 80 yards below their season average.

After Navy out-gained Memphis 292-98 in the first half, Memphis won the second 203-81.

Before it fell apart, though, everything started perfectly for Navy. The Middies opened the game with a 41-yard end around and scored touchdowns on three of their first five possessions, two on 1-yard Malcolm Perry keepers and on beautiful 17-yard Perry pass to Chance Warren on 3rd-and-9. But Perry, who battled injuries throughout the game, could not carry the offense when the running game dried up. He went just 2-of-4 for seven yards after the break, while backup Perry Olsen was intercepted on Navy’s final offensive play.

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy headlines 2019 Biletnikoff Award Watch List

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Media Day season is also Watch List season and the latest to surface for the 2019 campaign comes out of Tallahassee in the form of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, includes the defending winner in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and fellow semifinalist Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, as well as a number of other talented pass-catchers from around the country.

Here’s the full list, which is a good general overview of the best wide receivers and tight ends for the upcoming season even if a few names can gripe about being left off:

Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky)

Rico Bussey, Jr. (North Texas)

Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)

Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma)

Damonte Coxie (Memphis)

Gabriel Davis (UCF)

Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)

Aaron Fuller (Washington)

Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)

KJ Hamler (Penn State)

Adrian Hardy (Louisiana Tech)

Damon Hazelton (Virginia Tech)

Tee Higgins (Clemson)

K.J. Hill (Ohio State)

Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State)

Justin Jefferson (LSU)

Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)

Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)

Collin Johnson (Texas)

CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)

Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee State)

Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)

McLane Mannix (Texas Tech)

Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State)

Riley Miller (Ball State)

Denzel Mims (Baylor)

Darnell Mooney (Tulane)

Rondale Moore (Purdue)

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)

K.J. Osborn (Miami)

Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)

Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC)

James Proche (SMU)

Jalen Reagor (TCU)

Jared Rice (Fresno State)

Sean Riley (Syracuse)

Reggie Roberson, Jr. (SMU)

Justyn Ross (Clemson)

Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)

Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado)

JD Spielman (Nebraska)

Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

Marquez Stevenson (Houston)

Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)

Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)

JoJo Ward (Hawaii)

Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)