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Penn State Football: Nittany Lions Push Past Maryland 38-14

by on October 08, 2016 3:55 PM

For just the third time under James Franklin, Penn State scored a touchdown on its first drive of the game, and for the 18th time under Franklin the Nittany Lions walked away the victors. The latest win came in the form of a 38-14 domination of Maryland in the 40th meeting between the two teams.

Penn State opened the game with a seven-play, 84-yard campaign that ended in the back of the end zone as tight end Mike Gesicki hauled down a pass five yards out, diving in for the score. The Nittany Lions' score was the first of the season on the team's first possession and the quick start coach James Franklin had been looking for all season.

The lead, perhaps predictably with Penn State's depleted defense, didn't last as Ty Johnson took a screen pass 66-yards for the tying score on Maryland's own 81-yard frenzy just minutes later. The Terrapins entered Saturday's contest having scored 40 or more points on three occasions en route to a 4-0 record, but with little to no challenges along the way. 

Tyler Davis extended his made field goal streak to 18 from 30-yards out to end the first quarter with a 10-7 margin.

It was a balanced attack on the ground though that made the biggest difference on the field. Penn State ended Saturday with 372 rushing yards including 81 from quarterback Trace McSorley, who on more than one occasion found the open lane and uncovered field in front of him. The sudden rushing dominance culminated in a nine-yard carry into the end zone as McSorley cut left and then right going in untouched to give Penn State a 17-7 lead in the second quarter.

A blocked punt by Maryland gave the visitors life and a short field to work with, the resulting score from just seven yards out cutting back into Penn State's margin to make it a 17-14 game late in the half.

Saquon Barkley, who had largely been held in check the week prior, made his statement far earlier in this game, taking the ball from McSorley and running 45-yards nearly untouched with 15-seconds remaining in the half to establish a 24-14 lead. Barkley finished the day with 202 yards, his first game above the 200-yard mark in his collegiate career.

For the first time all year Penn State never looked back in the second half and never had to climb back either, holding the Terrapins scoreless in the final 30 minutes of play. The lead continued to grow as DeAndre Thompkins hauled in a 70-yard bomb from McSorley in the third quarter that made it 31-14, and then with 5:15 remaining freshman Miles Sanders looped down the right side of the field for a 25-yard rush and score that made it 38-14.

Tommy Stevens made a brief appearance at quarterback with the game well out of reach for Maryland, rushing for 36-yards on four carries. Stevens appeared to score a touchdown deep but the play was called back due to holding. 

And so the Nittany Lions head into the bye week at 4-2 and for the second straight week, feeling better about the product on the field.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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