Penn State’s pass rush comes alive with seven sacks in 30-0 victory over Maryland

Story posted November 14, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Alex Rocco

Penn State had just 17 sacks through the first eight weeks of the 2022 campaign, but the pass rush has come alive over the past two weeks, recording six sacks against Indiana and seven on Saturday against Maryland.

The seven-sack performance was a huge reason why the Nittany Lions came away with a 30-0 victory over the Terrapins.

Ever since the blue and white lost to Ohio State, the pass rush has been relentless and has caused havoc on opponents' offensive lines.

“I feel like it’s just everybody trusting each other,” defensive end Adisa Isaac said. “[We’re] not trying to do somebody else’s job. Everybody does their own job, and everything falls in line after that.”

Doing their job and trusting each other has allowed Penn State to dominate in the trenches post crazy sack and tackle-for-loss totals.

The six-sack performance against Indiana, combined with the Nittany Lions’ seven on Saturday, marks an achievement that hasn't happened in the program for 15 years.

The last time the blue and white tallied at least six sacks in back-to-back games came in 2007.

Penn State held the Hoosiers to just 196 yards when they faced off, and Maryland struggled in a similar fashion, only mustering 134 yards of offense.

Those 134 yards are the fewest given up by the Nittany Lions this season and mark the first time they held their opponent to under 140 yards since 2019 against the same Terrapins.

The blue and white had five sacks in the first half, and Maryland had just 27 offensive yards, which happened to be how many points Penn State had scored during the opening half.

According to defensive end Chop Robinson, the Terrapins’ offense looked defeated long before the game ended.

“Once you start doing that to an offense, you can see the guys turning against each other, pointing fingers, arguing with each other,” Robinson said. “Once the offense starts doing that, that’s when you get to control the game.”

Robinson noted Maryland’s offense reached that point “midway through the first quarter,” and the Nittany Lions feasted from there.

Saturday’s contest marked the first time Robinson played against his former team after he spent just one season in College Park before making the move to Happy Valley.

Robinson led the way in the victory, sacking his former teammate Taulia Tagovailoa twice. According to Isaac, Robinson was looking forward to playing his former team.

“This whole week, he’s been talking about how he wants to show out this week and put on for himself and the team,” Isaac said. “I feel like he did that.”

Saturday also was the first time this season the blue and white recorded a shutout, and it came without two key starters in cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and linebacker Curtis Jacobs.

Tagovailoa came into the game with over 2,000 passing yards on the campaign, but he threw for just 74 yards.

Filling in for Porter Jr. was sophomore corner Kalen King who had two pass breakups and now leads the team with 13.

True freshman Abdul Carter replaced Jacobs in just his second career start, and he led the team with seven tackles, a sack, a pass defended and a forced fumble.

Carter is second on the team in tackles and sacks this season and reminds Robinson of another Penn State linebacker that wore No. 11.

“His twitchiness just reminds me of Micah [Parsons],” Robinson said. “His twitchiness is just crazy to me, and his speed.”

With Penn State in full control, it put in its backups in hopes to preserve its first shutout since last season against Rutgers.

The shutout came down to the final drive as the Terrapins went down the field with under five minutes left to Penn State’s 16-yard line, and they faced a fourth-and-1.

Penn State forced a fumble, and Maryland never got the ball again.

Seeing the players who don’t often get playing time, finally, take the field and make the most of the moment was extremely rewarding for Robinson.

“It gives that excitement because those guys always wait for their name to be called,” Robinson said. “When their name’s called, they always show up, so I’m excited to see them out there.”

Alex Rocco is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email