On Friday night, Penn State took on Maryland in the midst of a “Blackout”, but by the end of the night, Capital One Field looked more like a White Out.
The Nittany Lions took it to the Terrapins from start to finish to pick up a 59-0 victory.
The Terps got the ball first, and picked up a first down thanks to the work of Anthony McFarland, but quarterback Josh Jackson fired a pass over the middle that Jan Johnson snared and ran down the left sideline. Two Maryland penalties on the play set the Nittany Lions up with first and goal from the eight. After a timeout, Sean Clifford executed the read option to perfection, and Penn State had the early 7-0 lead just two minutes and five seconds into the game.
After a Maryland three-and-out, keyed by a Yetur Gross-Matos tackle for loss on second and short, the Nittany Lions took the ball at their own 41. Journey Brown was stuffed in the backfield on first down, and managed a couple yards on second down, before Clifford hit K.J. Hamler coming across the middle. The speedy receiver did the rest, weaving his way down the right sideline, and juking Maryland’s Marcus Lewis out of his shoes to make it to pay dirt for the 14-0 advantage.
The Terps picked up one first down on their ensuing drive before Josh Jackson fired complete on the right side and Micah Parsons drilled him in the backfield to earn a targeting penalty, for which he was ejected. The added momentum carried Maryland deep into Penn State territory, at the 11, where Penn State stiffened. Tariq Castro-Fields nabbed the Jackson pass at the one, and the Nittany Lions took over at the five. After first downs by Slade and Hamler, Clifford launched it deep 40 yards to Dan Chisena, who grabbed the ball despite being interfered with, and Penn State was threatening again at the end of the first quarter.
The Nittany Lions took advantage of a “grasping the helmet opening” call against Maryland, and Ricky Slade pounded it in from three yards out to cap off the 10 play, 95 yard drive to give the road team a 21-0 lead.
Jackson was benched on Maryland’s next drive, but Tyrell Pigrome wasn’t able to lift the Terp offense either. Meanwhile, Clifford remained perfect, completing consecutive passes to Noah Cain, Jahan Dotson, and Justin Shorter. Shorter was injured on his grab after Maryland’s Deon Jones was flagged for targeting. On 2nd down from the 15, Noah Cain picked up the blitz, allowing Clifford to find Nick Bowers for the score to stretch the lead to 28-0.
Penn State wasn’t done scoring, as Clifford found Journey Brown with a short dump-off that Brown took 37 yards for a score, making it 35-0, and then executed a perfect two-minute drill to set up a 21-yard field goal by Jake Pinegar to make it 38-0 at the half. Clifford was 19 of 22 for 287 yards and three touchdowns through the air, while also managing 41 yards and a score on the ground. KJ Hamler had five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Clifford executed two more drives to begin the second half, but Jordan Stout’s kick sailed wide right on the first. The second one was keyed by a Clifford to Bowers connection for 55 yards, setting up a Journey Brown touchdown run to make it 45-0 midway through the third quarter.
Will Levis saw action the rest of the game, rushing for the game’s final two touchdowns. Meanwhile the Nittany Lions’ speedy defense smothered Jackson, McFarland, and the rest of the Terp offense to preserve the shutout, including true freshman Keaton Ellis’ forced (and recovered) fumble.
Clifford and his 217.2 QB rating led the Nittany Lions, going 26 of 31 for 398 yards and three passing touchdowns, while rushing for 54 yards and another score. Hamler had 108 yards on six catches, including a touchdown, Bowers had 70 yards and a score, and Cam Sullivan-Brown contributed with five catches. Defensively, Castro-Fields and Johnson each had an interception, while Ellis Brooks had six tackles and 2.5 sacks in relief of Parsons.