No. 11 Penn State Football Cruises Past Maryland 51-15
No. 11 Penn State football (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) blew out the Maryland Terrapins (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) 51-15 on Saturday at SECU Stadium in College Park, Maryland.
Penn State’s offense cruised to a 21-7 lead in the first half. The offensive play-calling looked revamped and energized, which helped lead to positive results for the Nittany Lions. While their front seven dominated Taulia Tagovailoa and the running backs, he punished the secondary with 211 passing yards.
A field goal expanded the lead to begin the second half, and it was all Penn State for the rest of the game. Maryland managed a touchdown and two-point conversion, but the Nittany Lions scored on all but one drive in the second half, ultimately winning 51-15 in College Park.
How It Happened
Taulia Tagovailoa and the Maryland offense started the game’s inaugural drive at the 25-yard line. He threw a pass to Roman Hemby, who dodged a couple of Nittany Lions before being pushed out of bounds for a four-yard gain. Then, he ripped an eight-yard pass to Corey Dyches to set up a first down. The Terps got to 4th-and-1 three plays later, and Jaylen Reed blew up Tagovailoa’s screen pass to Dyches for a one-yard loss, which ended the drive at the 44-yard line.
Drew Allar’s first pass was a one-yard completion to KeAndre Lambert-Smith. Kaytron Allen received the handoff up the middle two plays later, which set up 3rd-and-3. Allar found Lambert-Smith again for a seven-yard completion, and Allen ripped three consecutive gains to set up 1st-and-goal at the six-yard line. Then, Dante Cephas made a one-handed grab in the end zone to give Penn State a 7-0 lead with 8:41 to go in the first quarter. It was initially ruled an incomplete catch, but the call was reversed after a further review to give the Pittsburgh native his first touchdown of the season.
That catch is just pic.twitter.com/QHxFOz1sUP— Onward State (@OnwardState) November 4, 2023
However, Tagovailoa came out swinging by ripping a 30-yard pass to Tai Felton, which put the Terps at Penn State’s 43-yard line. Unfortunately for Felton, Adisa Isaac forced the ball out of Felton’s hands and into Zane Durant’s at the 23-yard line two plays later, who returned it to the 37-yard line.
Penn State regained possession, but it didn’t go well for the offense. The Nittany Lions had a three-and-out, and Riley Thompson punted the ball to Maryland’s 31-yard line.
The Terrapins quickly found themselves at 3rd-and-1, and Maryland native Dvon Ellies tackled Antwain Littleton II for a loss of three yards to force a three-and-out. Daequan Hardy fielded Colton Spangler’s punt at the 18-yard line, and he was brought down at the 25-yard line.
Allar ripped a seven-yard pass to Lambert-Smith, who danced around the defense before being pushed out of bounds. Then, he scrambled up the middle for an eight-yard gain, which was followed by a brief gain from Nick Singleton. Then, Allar connected with Lambert-Smith again for an explosive 38-yard gain, which was followed by an 18-yard completion to Tyler Warren to bring up 1st-and-goal at the six-yard line. Then, with Beau Pribula joining Allar in the game, the Nittany Lions ran a trick play; Pribula took the snap and handed it to Allar, who tossed a shovel pass to Theo Johnson in the end zone to make it 14-0 with two seconds left in the first quarter.
Folks, what is going on?? pic.twitter.com/ORFxYlR7wd— Onward State (@OnwardState) November 4, 2023
Tagovailoa was sacked by Abdul Carter for a five-yard loss to open Maryland’s drive. Consecutive passes to Dyches gave the Terps a fresh set of downs, but Tagovailoa was sacked again by Hakeem Beamon for an eight-yard loss on the next play. He bounced back again with a 14-yard pass to Kaden Prather, but was brought down by Curtis Jacobs for a four-yard loss two plays later. The Ewa Beach, Hawaii native was sacked yet again, this time by Johnny Dixon in a play that would’ve ended the drive had it not been for a roughing the punter call to give Maryland a fresh set of downs at Penn State’s 39-yard line.
Facing third down, Tagovailoa completed a 17-yard pass to Prather, then a six-yard pass to Felton to put the ball at the 15-yard line, then two penalties against the defense moved the ball to the seven. Tagovailoa tossed it to Hemby, who ran into the end zone to cut Penn State’s lead in half, making it 14-7 with 7:59 remaining in the second quarter.
After Singleton’s three-yard gain, Allar found Lambert-Smith for a seven-yard gain to bring up a first down. The wideout unsuccessfully attempted to throw a pass deep to Warren, and a six-yard gain from Singleton brought up 3rd-and-4. Allar rushed for a massive 21-yard gain, giving Penn State another set of downs. Then, he found Warren for a 14-yard gain two plays later, but after an incompletion and a two-yard Singleton rush, it was 3rd-and-8. Allar found Cephas for a 14-yard pass, bringing up 1st-and-goal. Two plays later, he connected with Warren for a touchdown to take a 21-7 lead with 2:34 left in the half.
Another tight end tuddy pic.twitter.com/A4oZxIK3mn— Onward State (@OnwardState) November 4, 2023
Tagovailoa quickly moved the ball with the clock ticking, with three completions putting Maryland at midfield with under a minute left. However, the drive stalled and the Terrapins punted. Allar took the knee, thus ending the first half with the blue and white leading 21-7.
Singleton only got the ball to the 17-yard line on his return. Allen’s consecutive five-yard gains set up a first down, then a 12-yard pass to Johnson continued the offense’s momentum. A pass breakup brought up 3rd-and-4 three plays later, and Allen was tackled short of the line to gain. The offense stayed on the field for 4th-and-1, and Allar found a wide-open Khalil Dinkins on the outside for a 16-yard gain to put the ball at Maryland’s 20-yard line. The Nittany Lions found themselves facing 3rd-and-10 two plays later, and Lambert-Smith was tackled three yards short. Alex Felkins’ field goal attempt was successful, giving Penn State a 24-7 lead with 9:26 remaining in the third quarter.
Hemby lost two yards to open the drive, then Tagovailoa completed a six-yard pass to Dyches. Then, Isaac sacked him for a loss of nine yards to end the drive.
The Nittany Lions quickly found themselves facing 3rd-and-2 after gains by Singleton and Omari Evans. Lambert-Smith couldn’t catch Allar’s deep ball, and Penn State punted.
Tagovailoa ripped a 20-yard pass to Octavion Smith Jr., who was wide open at the 37-yard line. Hardy broke up the next two passing attempts, which set up 3rd-and-10 for the Terrapins. A holding penalty coupled with an incompletion ended the drive on the play.
Allen rushed for 19 yards on the first play of Penn State’s drive. Then, Cephas made a 10-yard catch two plays later for another first down. Facing 3rd-and-short two plays later, Allen found room for a first down with a four-yard carry. Allar found Johnson and Lambert-Smith on the outside for gains on consecutive plays, then Allen rushed six yards to end the third quarter. Penn State faced 4th-and-2 a couple of plays later, and Allar found Warren for an 11-yard pass, which brought the Nittany Lions to the Terps’ 25-yard line. Then, Cephas hauled in a 15-yard pass in the end zone for his second touchdown of the day; expanding the lead to 31-7 with 13:55 to go in the game.
A pass interference call against Dixon extended what would’ve been a three-and-out. Dani Dennis-Sutton was called for roughing the passer on the next play, causing James Franklin to go livid at the officials. Felton caught Tagovailoa’s pass and advanced all the way to the one-yard line. Then, Jeshaun Jones’ one-yard reception and a Littleton’s rush made it 31-15 with 11:27 left in the game.
Singleton answered with an explosive 51-yard kickoff return. Lambert-Smith had a 20-yard completion, and then, four plays later, Allen was tush-pushed for 10 yards into the end zone to make it 37-15 with 9:14 left in regulation.
Maryland’s woes continued as Dom DeLuca intercepted Tagovailoa at his own 45-yard line, which was returned all the way to 20-yard line. Penn State didn’t find the endzone, but Felkins kicked a field goal to make it 41-15 with 7:38 left on the clock.
The disaster continued on the next drive. Tagovailoa was sacked on the first play, and Tony Rojas forced a fumble. The ball was recovered by Jordan Van Den Berg, and Penn State took over at Maryland’s 26-yard line.
Facing a quick 3rd-and-5, Beau Pribula scrambled for four yards. The offense stayed on the field, and Pribula successfully picked up the first down. He was sacked by Quashon Fuller to bring up 3rd-and-22 three plays later, and then picked up a five-yard gain to set up a field goal attempt. Felkins’ third attempt was successful, and it gave the Nittany Lions a 44-15 lead with 2:51 left in regulation.
Tagovailoa was benched for Billy Edwards Jr., but things didn’t get any better for Maryland. He threw an interception to Rojas on his first pass attempt, which was returned to the 12-yard line. Pribula rushed into the end zone three plays into his drive, and Felkins’ extra point attempt made it 51-15 with 1:25 to go. That was ultimately the final score, which improved Penn State’s record to 8-1.
- Wide receiver Dante Cephas had an impressive game with 53 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Both Cephas and James Franklin hinted they believed a big game would be coming from the Kent State transfer, and they were right. He scored his first two touchdowns of the year, and there couldn’t have been a better time for him to have this type of performance with fellow wideout Trey Wallace likely sidelined for the forseeable future.
- The offense as a whole looked much better than it has in recent weeks. Its 404 total yards are the most the group has amassed since UMass, and the play-calling was more creative and efficient with quarterback draws, more deep shots, and of course, Penn State’s second touchdown play of the game. It had the ball for 37:14, which is higher than its 33-minute average, a statistic that ranks No. 6 in the country.
- Penn State’s defense was menacing, with six sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. This kept the mobile Tagovailoa in check the whole game, as he had -47 rushing yards, which is a season low for him. After the defense had a down week against Indiana, this is a very encouraging sign that it is still among the best in college football.
- Although Penn State won’t be favored, today’s performance is an encouraging sign that it might have what it takes to compete with Michigan in a must-win game at Beaver Stadium next week. The offense looked as efficient as it has all season given the final statistics, and the defense bounced back against a Maryland offense that has proven to be dangerous at times throughout the season.
Penn State hosts Michigan at noon on Saturday, November 11, at Beaver Stadium. The game will be televised on FOX.
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About the Author
Kotelnicki would be James Franklin’s sixth offensive coordinator at Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are now 11-0 all time against the Bulldogs.
The Blue-White Game returned to its traditional format in 2023.