A week after an emotional and raucous double overtime loss to Urban Meyer and the 13th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State welcomed in a Maryland squad coming off a drubbing in Madison.
It was a rather forgettable affair for much of the first half, with Penn State leading 9-7 at halftime on the strength of Sam Ficken's right foot, and a dominant Nittany Lions defense. The lead expanded to 16-7 following a fumble forced by Anthony Zettel, and recovered by C.J. Olaniyan. (#mitten). For the first, and probably only time all day, the offense and Christian Hackenberg showed a pulse, driving down the field for a touchdown drive capped by a Jesse James reception.
From there, the Lions did everything they could to let Maryland hang around. Following another short punt by Daniel Pasquariello, the Terps drove to the PSU 1, before fumbling an option pitch, and settling for a field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, freshman returner Grant Haley fumbled the ball back to Maryalnd, who drove just 24 yards to take the lead.
After Ficken's 4th field goal of the game, a 48 yarder to take the lead, the PSU defense would again force a Maryland punt with just 3:30 remaining, and a chance to run out the clock. Instead runs of 4 yards, 0 yards, and 3 yards by Akeel Lynch lead to another short punt, and Will LIkely's only significant return of the day to set up the Terps at the PSU 42. The 13 yard completion on first down to Wes Brown was all Maryland would need to set up Brad Craddock from 42 yards out for the winning kick.
Penn State did get the ball back with 52 seconds, but only managed 9 yards on 2nd down, before fumbling the snap on 4th and 1, ending any hopes of another Hackenberg lead comeback.
So, another game, another dominating performance by a Penn State defense that held Maryland to just 192 yards, and a PSU offense that can't get out of it's own way. The running game managed a measly 66 yards on 30 carries on designed runs. Hackenberg alternated between running for his life, and not finding open receivers, and occasionally, yelling at any teammate or coach that would listen. Frustration has clearly set in among the sophomore captain, and with just 4 games remaining, and no more off weeks, time is running out to find 2 more wins, and send a deserving senior class out with a bowl game.