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Penn State Manhandles Maryland 30-0: Game Recap

A dominating performance by both the offensive line, and the defense as a whole in this one.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

On a rainy Saturday in mid-November, Penn State notched its eighth win of the season, beating Maryland 30-0.

The Terps got the ball first at their 11 after an ill-advised decision to return the kick from the end zone, and promptly went three-and-out, thanks to a Zane Durant sack on third and eight.

Penn State started their first offensive drive in Maryland territory, and marched 47 yards in nine plays, keyed by hard-nosed running by Nicholas Singleton and a third-down conversion on a pass to the flat from Sean Clifford to Brenton Strange that the tight end took down the right sideline to give Clifford the most passing yards in Penn State history. On second and goal from the three, Clifford rolled out to his right and hit a diving Strange in the end zone to give Penn State a 7-0 advantage with 8:52 left in the first quarter.

Maryland started their next drive from the 25, and started with a sack by Adisa Isaac and came to a quick halt with an incompletion and an offensive penalty on third and long. This gave the Nittany Lions another short field at their own 46. Singleton ripped it into Maryland territory with a 15-yard run on first down, but Clifford overthrew two receivers, including a streaking Parker Washington on a flea-flicker, and tossed his third down attempt out of bounds to avoid the sack. This brought on everybody’s favorite punter, Barney Amor, who shanked the punt for 15 yards to the Maryland 24. The Terps gained three yards in three plays, and booted the ball right back to the Nittany Lions, as the home team’s front seven, especially the defensive line, continued to exert their will.

Clifford and company began the ensuing series from their own 36. Kaytron Allen sprinted around left end for an early first down on his first carry, and on fourth and one from the 45, Singleton swept through a hole on the right side of the line and earned his ninth rushing touchdown of the season, a Penn State freshman record. With 1:19 left in the first quarter, it was 14-0 Penn State. Maryland earned their initial first down on their next possession, but punted the ball back to Penn State as the opening stanza came to a close. The Nittany Lions out-gained Maryland in the first quarter 126-3, led by Singleton’s 86 yards on seven carries.

After a Penn State three-and-out from their 11, Maryland experienced three straight negative plays courteous of a fantastic open field tackle for loss by Hakeem Beamon on a rush, and sacks by linebacker Abdul Carter and safety Ji’Ayir Brown. The Nittany Lions got the ball back at their 28, and Allen took the team towards midfield before Clifford hit Parker Washington on a slant across the middle into Maryland territory. On fourth down from the Terps 27, Singleton took the T-formation handoff, cut back to the middle, avoided two tacklers, and dragged another 10 yards into the end zone, giving the home team a 21-0 lead with 7:46 left in the half. The freshman from Reading had eight carries for 113 yards in the first half and those two touchdown runs on fourth down.

Maryland picked up their second and third first downs after four straight Roman Hemby runs, and quickly moved the ball into Penn State territory. However, a Taulia Tagovailoa incompletion courtesy of an excellent quarterback hurry by Carter, and a completion short of the line to gain on fourth down gave the ball back to Penn State at their 32 with 5:15 left in the half.

Clifford did an excellent job to avoid a sack on third down, hitting his safety valve Strange who motored for a first. The drive stalled after two penalties and a Clifford overthrow, but Amor was roughed on the punt, giving Penn State an automatic first down at the Maryland 39. Allen picked up 10 yards off of the left side on first down, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on James Franklin set the offense back, but an Allen run for 10 yards on third down set up a Jake Pinegar 50-yard field goal. Maryland was shut down on their next drive, highlighted by a Chop Robinson sack, and the Nittany Lions went aggressive, calling two of their three timeouts to get the ball back with 1:09 left. The offense drove to the Maryland 29, and Pinegar hit a 46-yarder to give Penn State a 27-0 lead going into the halftime locker room.

It was total domination in the first half, with Penn State out-gaining Maryland 296 to 27, registering five sacks and seven tackles for loss, averaging over six yards per play, and possessing the ball for eight more minutes than the Terrapins.

Both teams exchanged three-and-outs to open the second half. The Nittany Lions’ second possession of the half started at their own 35, and immediately advanced to midfield after a pass interference penalty. Allen picked up a first down on third and short to push the ball to the Maryland 39, and Clifford avoided another sack and hit Theo Johnson down to the six. Unfortunately, Clifford couldn’t connect with Strange in the end zone, and Pinegar hit the 21-yard field goal to make it 30-0 with 8:15 left in the third quarter. On that drive, the completion to Johnson gave the greybeard quarterback 10,000 yards passing for his career.

Maryland started their next possession at the 16, and picked up three first downs before the drive stalled at the Penn State 47. Kalen King had several great defensive plays on the possession, highlighted by a near-interception on fourth down. Drew Allar quarterbacked Penn State’s next drive and completed one of three passes for one yard. Amin Vanover punctuated the end of the third quarter with an 11-yard sack back to the Maryland 25, and the score remained 30-0.

Allar hit a wide-open Liam Clifford for 17 yards on their first set of downs in the fourth quarter, and later scrambled for 12 yards and another first down. The drive stalled at the Maryland 43, leading to another punt, with this one downed at the Maryland three. The Terrapins did not gain a yard on the drive, and gave Penn State another short field in Terps territory at the 44. Christian Veilleux entered the game, and a bad snap forced the first turnover of the game. The Terrapins drove down the field partly due to another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Nittany Lions, but the reserves on the defensive line stopped the backup quarterback Billy Edwards short of first-down yardage to preserve the shutout.

For the game, Nicholas Singleton led the team in rushing with 11 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and his classmate Kaytron Allen had 16 carries for 73 yards. Theo Johnson had three catches for 44 yards, and sixth-year Sean Clifford was 12/23 for 139 yards and a touchdown pass to Brenton Strange. As a team, Penn State had seven sacks and nine tackles for loss defensively, and nearly 400 yards on offense.

Penn State moves to 8-2 on the year, and will face Rutgers next Saturday in Piscataway.