Game Grades: Maryland
Everything was clicking for Penn State’s offense in this laugher of a game, with the Nittany Lions totaling a whopping 66 points and 534 yards against the Maryland Terrapins. Maryland could do nothing to stop the pass from the start, with Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley completing 22 of his 33 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a 5 yard TD. McSorley spread the ball around all of his top targets, with Juwan Johnson being the leading receiver, recording six receptions for 63 yards. Tight end Mike Gesicki caught two touchdown passes within three and a half minutes of each other, further bolstering his campaign for the John Mackey award. Running back Saquon Barkley also had a strong performance in a game in which the offense was doing pretty well without calling run plays. He rushed for 77 yards and scored two touchdowns. Even with the backups in late in the game, Penn State’s offense was scoring points even with the starters on the bench, so pretty much everything went well for Penn State’s offense.
The Penn State defense was very stout against Maryland, keeping the Terps off the scoreboard until 1:01 left in the 3rd quarter when they would score on a Henry Darmstadter field goal. Despite a notable display by Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore, who caught eight passes for 100 yards, Maryland was simply not able to get in the end zone and make this game even remotely competitive. Penn State was also able to force two fumbles by QB Max Bortenschlager that heavily disrupted the offensive rhythm of the Terps. Two more fumbles were recovered by Penn State. The Nittany Lions also pressured Bortenschlager throughout the game, totaling five sacks. Maryland was able to muster a decent ground game, totaling 124 yards rushing.
Special Teams: A
The special teams play for Penn State was overall very strong. Kicker Tyler Davis was a perfect 9 for 9 on extra point attempts and also made his lone field goal try for 30 yards. Punter Blake Gillikin had another positive day, punting four times for an average of 45.3 yards and a long of 52 yards. Kick returning was fine on a day in which the returners were given few opportunities. Brandon Polk returned a kick for five yards and Saquon Barkley returned a kick for three yards. DeAndre Thompkins returned two punts for 25 yards, with a long of 20 yards on a nice return.
The Nittany Lions came out roaring from the jump in this game and did not look back. This one was never close at any point. Head coach James Franklin had his boys ready to go and kept them focused throughout, whereas last week the defense gave up a lot of points in garbage time. Joe Moorhead’s offense had all the answers, dropping an obscene amount of points against a Maryland defense that couldn’t get any stops. The creative play calling, especially the methods Moorhead used to get backup QB Tommy Stevens involved when the game was not yet decided. An all-around great way to finish the regular season for Penn State and make their final case for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.
Jeremy Ganes is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.