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Rose Bowl: Penn State dominates Utah as QB Cam Rising is knocked out again

Quarterback Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes runs for first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Tight end Thomas Yassmin #87 of the Utah Utes catches pass for a touchdown against linebacker Abdul Carter #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Wide receiver Jaylen Dixon #25 of the Utah Utes catches a pas and runs for yardage against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Utah Utes fans after a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Quarterback Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes runs for first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Tight end Thomas Yassmin #87 of the Utah Utes catches pass for a touchdown against linebacker Abdul Carter #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Micah Bernard #2 of the Utah Utes is tackled by linebacker Jonathan Sutherland #0 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Nicholas Singleton #10 of Penn State Nittany Lions runs for touchdown against the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes looks on against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Quarterback Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes runs for first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Micah Bernard #2 of the Utah Utes runs for first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions scrambles against the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions passes against safety Sione Vaki #28 of the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Wide receiver Money Parks #10 of the Utah Utes catches pass for first down against safety Ji’Ayir Brown #16 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

wide receiver Devaughn Vele #17 of the Utah Utes catches pass for first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Linebacker Karene Reid #21 of the Utah Utes reacts after sacking quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Linebacker Karene Reid #21 of the Utah Utes sacks quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Ja’Quinden Jackson #3 of the Utah Utes runs for touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions catches pass for first down against safety Sione Vaki #28 of the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Utah Utes fans react after a first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions catches pass for first down against safety Sione Vaki #28 of the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Ja’Quinden Jackson #3 of the Utah Utes reacts after running for a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions reacts after a touchdown against the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

wide receiver Devaughn Vele #17 of the Utah Utes catches pass for first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

linebacker Karene Reid #21 of the Utah Utes sacks quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Running back Ja’Quinden Jackson #3 of the Utah Utes reacts after running for a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Linebacker Karene Reid #21 of the Utah Utes sacks quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

quarterback Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes passes against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

wide receiver Devaughn Vele #17 of the Utah Utes catches pass for first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Defensive tackle Junior Tafuna #58 of the Utah Utes sacks quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions catches pass for touchdown past safety R.J. Hubert #11 of the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Quarterback Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes reacts after a first down against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Wide receiver Money Parks #10 of the Utah Utes catches pass for first down against safety Ji’Ayir Brown #16 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Cornerback Kalen King #4 of the Penn State Nittany Lions intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Devaughn Vele #17 of the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions reacts after a first down against the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

quarterback Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions reacts after a touchdown against the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions catches pass for touchdown past safety R.J. Hubert #11 of the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

wide receiver Jaylen Dixon #25 of the Utah Utes catches a pass for yardage against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Nicholas Singleton #10 of Penn State Nittany Lions runs for touchdown against the Utah Utes in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

cornerback Zemaiah Vaughn #16 of the Utah Utes knocks away pass intended for wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith #1 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Quarterback Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes leaps over safety Ji’Ayir Brown #16 of the Penn State Nittany Lions for the first down in the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Penn State wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith reaches for a pass against Utah cornerback Zemaiah Vaughn during the first half of the 109th Rose Bowl game on Monday in Pasadena. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

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PASADENA — Penn State reigned in the rain.

And Utah’s seasoned ended, again, at the Rose Bowl, with a reason to cry.

The 109th Rose Bowl, the original bowl game, featured a first – not the precipitation – but the matchup between No.7 Utah, Pac-12 Conference champion, and No. 9 Penn State, the third-place team from the Big Ten.

And Penn State ran away with it, 35-21, breaking it open in the second half when they outscored the Utes 21-7 – including two quick touchdowns after the Utes lost their star quarterback Cameron Rising to a leg injury with 8:31 to play in the third quarter, and with him, their mojo, their fight and, in short order, all real hope.

On the other sideline, Nittany Lions quarterback Steve Clifford wrote himself a happy ending. “Couldn’t have wrote the script any better,” Penn State coach James Franklin said afterward from the podium beside his QB, who had a red rose tucked above his right ear.

The sixth-year quarterback earned the adornment after going 16 for 21 for 279 yards and two touchdowns – and a curtain call – to lead Penn State to its 11th victory this season, equaling the number the Nittany Lions won in the past two seasons combined.

In the future, the Rose Bowl won’t necessarily be a Pac-12 vs. Big Ten get-together, and it might not be played at its traditional time on New Year’s Day – well, semi-traditional, held this Monday because Jan. 1 fell on a Sunday – because it’s being rolled into the new 12-team College Football Playoff next season.

So Penn State (10-4) doesn’t advance, but in the 100th anniversary of the program’s first Rose Bowl appearance, the Nittany Lions improved to 2-3 in the “Grandaddy” game, making it a Happier Valley back home – and on the dais.

Asked safety Ji’Ayir Brown: “Did I make you smile, Coach?”

Answered Franklin, with a smile: “Yeah.”

There was no getting anything past the Nittany Lions on Monday. So Utah (10-4) got cute on first down in the second half, Rising flipping the ball back to Devaughn Vele, but the receiver couldn’t find anyone open and got dropped for a loss of 9 yards – and momentum. The Utes were forced to punt two plays later.

And two Penn State plays after that, Nicholas Singleton bolted for an 87-yard touchdown, the freshman breaking off his seventh run of 40-plus yards this season and his second of 70-plus.

Then the gloom really began to set in for Utah. On the Utes’ next drive, Rising – who had been pressured five times already in the second half, as many times as he had in the entire first half – took off and ran into a thicket of Penn State defenders.

Utah’s star QB emerged from the pile-up initially upright, but then he fell back down to the Rose Bowl turf on which he’d hit his head last year before being ruled out early in the fourth quarter of Utah’s 48-45 loss to Ohio State.

As Rising – who has yet to announce whether he’ll return to Utah for a sixth season or avail himself in the NFL Draft – limped into the medical tent on the Utes’ sideline, Bryson Barnes came in at QB for Utah.

“Looks like it could be something that takes a while to recover from,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “That’s not positive right now … breaks my heart. He’s such a warrior and a such a fierce competitor. He’ll be back; I can promise you that. Hopefully, he’s back with us. That’s to be determined.”

Bryson started once for Rising this season, against Washington State, but the sophomore was hard-pressed to replace the Ventura native Monday. Rising left having gone 8 for 21 for 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Bryson led Utah to a score with 25 seconds left and finished 10 for 19 for 112 yards, the touchdown and an interception, but “yeah, the morale was deflated a little bit,” Vele said.

As Bryson threw the pick – Brown pulled down the errant pass – Rising was just leaving the tent and limping onto the locker room, looking up at the big screen to witness the damage on the field.

And then the rain began to fall.

Yes, rain.

In lieu of the Rose Bowls’ traditionally, majestically colorful sunset, the 94,873 in attendance Monday were treated to a gloomy afternoon and evening in Pasadena – gloomier for the fellas in red.

Penn State will remember the darkness fondly and savor memories of turning out the lights on Utah with a flurry of strikes that included Singleton’s 87-yard sprint and then KeAndre Lambert-Smith’s 88-yard touchdown reception that pushed his side’s sudden advantage to 28-14.

That score got the white-clad Penn State supporters on the west end of the Rose Bowl stands hey-yo-ing and oh-oh-oh-ing some history: Penn State goes down as the first team in all of the Rose Bowls with 80-plus yard receiving and rushing touchdowns in a game.

The Nittany Lions’ next TD, on Kaytron Allen’s 1-yard dive into the end zone, kept the party going – 35-14 with 10:36 to play.

After a first-period feeling-out period started with three punts, the teams traded touchdowns over the next four possessions and went into halftime tied, 14-14.

A defensive play got the scoring started. The Nittany Lions’ redshirt freshman cornerback Kalen King read the slot fade’s trajectory and intercepted Rising’s pass. Penn State cashed in by marching 82 yards in an 11-play drive, with Singleton barreling into the end zone with seven seconds left in the first quarter.

Those points cracked the dam.

Utah tied the score at 7-7 with a 13-play, 75-yard increasingly chippy drive that included nine consecutive rushing plays before Rising went back to the air, connecting with 6-foot-5 Thomas Yassmin in the corner of the end zone.

Yassmin, a former rugby player from Sydney, Australia, was stepping in – and up – for fellow tight end Dalton Kincaid, who had 70 catches for a team-leading 890 yards and eight TDs but missed his final college game Monday ahead of the NFL draft with an undisclosed injury.

Kincaid was one of four players missing, along with first-team All-American cornerback Clark Phillips III and leading rusher Tavion Thomas for Utah, and cornerback Joey Porter Jr., a second-team All-American, for Penn State.

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Clifford started to get comfortable late in the first half, rolling away from the rush and finding KeAndre Lambert-Smith, who found some space down field for a 32-yard pickup: “A huge play,” Franklin called it.

Another couple of completions – 6 yards to Kaytron Allen and a 20-yard laser to Harrison Wallace III – and Clifford hit Mitchell Tinsley in stride for a 10-yard touchdown on first-and-goal. With Jake Pinegar’s kick, the Nittany Lions were ahead 14-7 with 4:47 left in the period.

Had the floodgates flung open? After Penn State’s 70-yard go-ahead scoring drive required only six plays and 3:02, the Utes’ rebut went 75 yards in six plays over a span of 2:09.

With a third-down blitz coming, Rising launched a pass that Vele snagged for 47 yards. A couple of snaps later, on third-and-1 from the 19-yard line, Ja’Quinden Jackson ran through Penn State’s defense until he hit pay dirt. Another Jordan Noyes’ PAT and the folks tuned in might not have been looking at a particularly colorful sky, but they had themselves a ballgame – or so they thought.

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