DALLAS - Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State's 30-14 loss to Houston on Monday afternoon in the TicketCity Bowl:
Play of the game: After Penn State shaved the Cougars' lead to 17-7, Houston answered with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Patrick Edwards with 1:43 left in the first half.
Offensive player of the game: Keenum completed 45-of-69 passes for 532 yards and three touchdowns. He was not intercepted.
The Associated Press photos
Penn State’s Drew Astorino is unable to hold on to the ball on a punt return Monday.
Defensive player of the game: Houston safety Nick Saenz made eight tackles and two interceptions.
Most telling statistic: Penn State managed just three passing first downs.
Hidden statistic: Keenum's 227 passing yards in the first quarter established an NCAA bowl record for a single quarter.
Best run: Houston's Michael Hayes appeared to be tackled but kept his feet for a 17-yard gain in the third quarter.
Best pass: Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden rifled a 69-yard touchdown pass to Justin Brown late in the third quarter, cutting Houston's lead to 27-14.
Worst pass(es): Bolden missed Michael Zordich early on a short out, which would have extended a possession, and botched two first-half screens.
Best catch: Devon Smith made a diving snag of a 43-yarder from Bolden in the second quarter, setting up the Lions' only TD in the first half.
Catch it, will ya: Derek Moye dropped a catchable fly pattern from Bolden that would have gone for 35-plus yards in the second quarter, and Smith had a shot at a late TD. On the Houston side, D.J. Hayden and Derrick Mathews both dropped possible pick-6s.
Hold it, won't ya: Lion punt returner Drew Astorino muffed a punt return but recovered it in the first quarter. Bolden also fumbled twice.
Best call: Penn State dusted off the direct snap that Stephfon Green turned into a 6-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-7 with 5:54 left in the first half.
Worst call: This was weird. Scrambling without timeouts and trying to build on its 24-7 lead, Houston attempted a running play from the PSU 35 with 35 seconds left in the first half, bringing boos from Cougar fans. The play lost 20 precious seconds and led to a missed 50-yard field goal.
Best block: Stephon Morris decked the Cougars' Chris Wilson on a crackback that sprung Brown's 26-yard punt return in the second quarter. Brown went 93 yards, but he stepped out of bounds, and the play was brought back.
Best tackle: Hayden drilled Silas Redd for a 3-yard loss in a one-on-one opportunity early.
Best hit: Hayden - again - decked Bolden from the blind side in the third quarter, forcing a fumble that Green alertly recovered.
Worst coverage: Penn State's secondary wasn't in the same zip code as Cougar receivers on two of Houston's first-half touchdown passes.
Best kick: Leading 30-14, Houston's Richie Leone lofted a 41-yarder that Brown fair caught at the PSU 8 with 5:53 left.
Worst kick: Lion punter Anthony Fera had a bad day, underscored by his 24-yard shank in the fourth quarter.
Worst penalty: Pick one of the Lions' three block-in-the-back calls on special teams.
Best effort: The Cotton Bowl press box announcer did an amazing job keeping up with Houston's rapid pace. The same, however, can't be said for the scoreboard operator, who was behind most of the day.
Unsung hero: Leone averaged 42.5 on six punts, putting four inside the 20.