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No. 14 Penn State Sinks Maryland 30-0 Amid Downpour

No. 14 Penn State football (8-2, Big Ten 5-2) shut out Maryland (6-4, Big Ten 3-4) as torrential rain swamped Beaver Stadium Saturday.

Although the offense had a strong outing, Penn State’s defense did not allow Maryland any breathing room. In the first half, the Terrapins eked out just 27 yards of total offense compared to the Nittany Lions’ 27 points.

Despite a pedestrian stat line, starter Sean Clifford became the sole owner of the program’s all-time passing yards record and the first Nittany Lion quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards. Freshman Nick Singleton averaged 11.1 yards per carry, amassing 122 yards and two touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Maryland transfer Chop Robinson recorded two sacks against his former team.

How It Happened

A questionable decision to return the opening kickoff led to Maryland beginning its first drive from the 11-yard line. True freshman defensive lineman Zane Durant picked up his first career sack, holding the Terrapins from converting their first third down of the day.

After an 8-yard carry from Nick Singleton and a 2-yard pop pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Sean Clifford found a wide open Brenton Strange for a 16-yard gain. With that catch and run, Clifford eclipsed Trace McSorley’s program record of 8,899 career passing yards. The drive was fittingly capped off with another Clifford-Strange connection – this time in the form of a 3-yard pass into the end zone. Penn State led 7-0 with nine minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Adisa Isaac earned the Nittany Lions’ second sack of the day and a subsequent hurry by Jonathan Sutherland forced another third down for Maryland. When quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa faced more pressure, he threw an illegal pass to his offensive lineman, setting up another punt.

Singleton broke off a 15-yard run, but three consecutive incompletions from Clifford rendered the drive unsuccessful. Barney Amor mustered a weak 15-yard punt to the Terrapins’ 24-yard line. Maryland took advantage of the bad punt by entering a third consecutive three-and-out, highlighted by an Abdul Carter forced fumble that went airborne out of bounds.

Five plays of single-digit yardage brought up a 4th-and-1 in attacking position. The offense stayed on the field in the T formation and opted to put the ball in Singleton’s hands. Rather than just moving the chains, the true freshman exploded into a 45-yard touchdown run. With his ninth score of the season, Singleton breaking Penn State’s freshman rushing touchdown record. Penn State led 14-0 with fewer than 90 seconds left in the quarter.

Maryland picked up 13 yards on a first-down run, but three plays later, the Terrapins were punting away yet again. The Nittany Lions didn’t fare much better, responding with a punt of their own. Consecutive sacks by Hakeem Beamon and Abdul Carter ushered on Maryland’s punter.

As the Nittany Lions’ running back on the field, Kaytron Allen picked up 22 yards on the drive’s first two carries. Clifford kept the momentum rolling with a 14-yard reception, but shortly after, Penn State faced another 4th-and-1. Again out of the T formation, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich called Singleton’s number. Singleton took on Maryland tacklers and carried a defender en route to a 27-yard touchdown run. An extra point from Jake Pinegar gave Penn State a 21-0 lead with under eight minutes remaining in the half.

Two consecutive plays exceeding 10 yards and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Ji’Ayir Brown seemed to energize the Terrapins. Penn State’s defense rallied, allowing just one yard on four plays and won possession back for its offense.

Although Clifford managed a 15-yard pass to Strange, two penalties against the offensive line froze the Nittany Lions’ progress. Penn State was forced to settle for a long field goal. Despite his attempt coming from 50 yards out, Pinegar converted. The score gave the redshirt senior his second 50-yard kick in two weeks and gave Penn State a 24-0 lead with 90 seconds remaining in the half.

A quick Maryland three-and-out was bolstered by a sack from Chop Robinson, who played for the Terrapins last season. Clifford went 4-for-6 on the ensuing Penn State drive and Pinegar hit a 46-yard field goal as time expired. Penn State led 27-0 at halftime.

Out of halftime, three Singleton carries weren’t enough to pick up a first down. Amor punted possession away, but defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s defense forced a punt right back, after another three-and-out.

With time to spare on first down, Clifford rolled out and threw a prayer to Mitchell Tinsley. Although it was slightly overthrown, the Nittany Lion drew a pass interference call. Three plays later, Clifford found Theo Johnson on a 33-yard pass and became the first-ever Penn State quarterback to throw for 10,000 passing yards. Two rushes for two yards set up a third down shot to the end zone that went incomplete. Pinegar made his third field goal of the day, extending Penn State’s lead to 30 with eight minutes left in the third quarter.

Maryland began piecing together its first convincing drive of the game, picking up three first downs. Still, the drive was dominated by the defense, with Robinson recording his second sack and Carter notching another hurry. Tagovailoa could only complete one of his four passes, leading to another Terrapin turnover on downs.

Freshman Drew Allar entered the game with three and a half minutes left in the third quarter. Despite the excitement, Allar went just 1-for-3 for a lone yard and Penn State faced another three-and-out. Instead of Amor though, true freshman Alex Bacchetta took his first collegiate punt, which landed at Maryland’s 11-yard line. The Terrapins’ two first downs weren’t enough to avoid punting back to the Nittany Lions in the fourth quarter.

When Allar got the ball back, Tank Smith was inserted at running back, indicating the team’s desire to run out the clock. Nine plays with the reserves brought out Bacchetta for another punt. After a quarterback switch, Maryland wasn’t able to do much to escape its own 3-yard line, punting back to the Nittany Lions.

Christian Veilleux took the field as Penn State’s quarterback, but a bad snap on his first play allowed the Terrapins to get the ball back. After 14 yards and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Davon Townley Jr. put Maryland in sniffing distance of the red zone for the first time all game. A failed fourth-down conversion dispelled any fleeting hope of Maryland breaking the shut out.

Veilleux returned to the field, and after a series of short plays, Penn State exited with a decisive victory.

Takeaways

  • After ceding the starting role to Kaytron Allen over the last two weeks, Nick Singleton exploded back onto the scene. With two touchdowns (both on fourth downs) and 122 yards on just 11 carries, the star freshman epitomized his team’s dominance. Allen also flashed at times, totaling 73 yards. The duo’s productive day was obviously impressive, but with veteran running back Keyvone Lee missing his fourth consecutive game due to injury, Singleton and Allen’s contributions are even more critical for their team.
  • Penn State’s pass rush was electric as usual. Spearheaded by Chop Robinson’s two sacks and Abdul Carter’s consistent presence in the backfield, Manny Diaz’s defense controlled the game. In addition to recording seven sacks, the unit held Maryland to just 27 yards of total offense in the first half. Even when the Nittany Lions’ offense was imperfect, it never felt like Taulia Tagovailoa and the Terrapins ever had a chance with the ball.
  • Despite a relatively quiet day in terms of scoring, starting quarterback Sean Clifford fought through the rainy conditions and secured his place in Penn State’s record books. Becoming the program’s all-time leading passer and the first Nittany Lion signal caller to eclipse 10,000 yards, Clifford finished with 139 yards and a single touchdown. Freshman Drew Allar only entered in the third quarter and managed 18 yards on his six passing attempts.
  • Redshirt senior kicker Jake Pinegar continued his hot streak. Pinegar was perfect on all three extra point attempts and all three field goal attempts. After hitting his first career 50-yard field goal against Indiana last week, Pinegar hit his second in front of a very wet Beaver Stadium crowd.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will face off with another Big Ten opponent, as they travel to Piscataway, New Jersey against Rutgers. The game’s television coverage and kickoff time have yet to be announced.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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