Kedarian Jones

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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.