Penn State Football: Nittany Lions Dominate Maryland Under Friday Night Lights
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — No. 12 Penn State football (4-0) made easy work of Maryland (2-2) at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium Friday night by a score of 59-0.
The Nittany Lions got off to a hot start on offense and never looked back. Sean Clifford had a day, throwing for 398 yards and three touchdowns, while KJ Hamler led Penn State with six receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. Strong performances from players all over Ricky Rahne’s offense paired with a dominant defensive effort led the Nittany Lions to victory over the Terrapins.
How It Happened
Maryland received the opening kick off but its drive was shut down by a Jan Johnson interception. A Terrapins penalty on Johnson’s return gave the Nittany Lions the ball inside the 10-yard line.
Penn State’s offense capitalized early thanks to the legs of Sean Clifford. The redshirt sophomore rushed for an eight-yard touchdown on the Nittany Lions’ first play from scrimmage, and they took a 7-0 lead with 12:55 remaining in the first quarter.
The Terrapins continued to struggle to stop Penn State on its next possession. Clifford found KJ Hamler open on a slant on the third play of the next drive for a 58-yard touchdown. The Nittany Lions held a 14-0 lead with 9:36 remaining in the first quarter and just four plays run from scrimmage.
Maryland put together a solid drive on its next possession, getting all the way down to Penn State’s 11-yard line. But an interception from Tariq Castro-Fields gave the ball back to the Nittany Lions on their own five.
Clifford and Co. found pay dirt yet again off the turnover. The Nittany Lions put together a 10 play, 95-yard drive that was capped of by a three-yard touchdown rush for Ricky Slade. Penn State held a 21-0 lead with 13:23 remaining in the first half.
Maryland put Tyrrell Pigrome in at quarterback to try and find a spark, but the offense still couldn’t get anything going. The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, remained to be unstoppable. Ricky Rahne’s offense scored its fourth touchdown in as many drives on a 15-yard Nick Bowers catch and run, and Penn State took a 28-0 lead with 9:40 remaining in the second quarter.
The Terps finally got a stop on defense thanks to a Nick Cross interception, but Penn State picked up right where it left off on its next possession. Journey Brown found the end zone on a screen pass that he took 37 yards to the house, and the Nittany Lions held a 35-0 lead with 3:00 remaining in the half.
After yet another defensive stop, Penn State drove all the way down to Maryland’s three-yard line with just seconds remaining, and Jake Pinegar hit a 21-yard field goal to give James Franklin’s squad a 38-0 lead heading into the locker room.
The Nittany Lions scored their first touchdown of the second half thanks in large part to a 55-yard reception from Bowers. Brown followed up the big play with a one-yard touchdown rush for his second score of the night and gave Penn State a 45-0 lead with 7:16 remaining in the third.
Will Levis came in at quarterback in the fourth quarter and tacked on another score with a five-yard touchdown rush. Penn State held a 52-0 lead with 6:37 remaining in the contest.
Levis tacked on another rushing touchdown within the last minute of the game, making the final score 59-0 in Penn States favor.
- After slow starts against Buffalo and Pitt, Penn State’s offense wasted no time to get hot in this one. The Nittany Lions scored on six of their seven first-half possessions and put up 383 total yards of offense, including six plays worth 20 yards or more in the first 30 minutes of the game. By game's end, it was 619 yards of offense
- This was by far the best game of Sean Clifford’s Nittany Lion career thus far. The redshirt sophomore scored four total touchdowns, all of them coming in the first half, and threw for 398 yards. He also led the Nittany Lions with 54 rushing yards on the night and set a program record with 287 passing yards in the first half.
- Maryland’s offense received quite a bit of hype in the early stages of this season, but Brent Pry’s defense shut them down on Friday night. The Terrapins mustered just 124 total yards of offense, and quarterback Josh Jackson was held to just 65 passing yards. On the few possessions that Maryland did look like they had something going, the drives were shut down thanks to interceptions by Jan Johnson and Tariq Castro-Fields.
Penn State will take on Purdue during Homecoming weekend next Saturday at Beaver Stadium. The game will kick off at noon.