Maryland Shocks Penn State With Late Field Goal

Story posted November 2, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski

Brad Craddock nailed a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left to give Maryland a 20-19 victory over Penn State on Saturday afternoon; their first win against the Nittany Lions since 1961.

Maryland made it known early on that this wouldn’t be a friendly contest, refusing to shake Penn State’s captains’ hands after the coin toss, making for a tense game on both sides.

It looked throughout the contest like the Lions would prevail, but the Terps, entering Beaver Stadium for the first time since 1992, weren’t going down without a fight.

After three straight runs, Maryland was able to force Penn State to punt the football away with just over two minutes left. A solid return from Will Likely put Maryland in good field position to start their game-winning drive.

“It’s a field position game. We’re having a hard time swinging the field position on special teams,” said Penn State head coach James Franklin.

A screen pass, a few rush attempts and an incomplete pass into the endzone put the Terps in position for Craddock to kick the field goal and give Maryland a much needed win.

Just a few minutes earlier, Penn State looked to be in control. In a game where neither team generated much of anything offensively, taking advantage of mistakes was the key. Leading 16-10 after a huge goal-line stand, Grant Haley proceeded to fumble the ensuing kickoff, swinging the momentum in Maryland’s direction and helping the Terrapins regain the advantage.

Maryland took over at the 24-yard line after the fumble and four plays later, Wes Brown punched it in from a yard out giving the Terps a 17-16 lead, their first since late in the 2nd quarter. Brown finished with just 24 yards on the game.

Despite not doing anything particularly well offensively, Maryland was able to make the plays when needed; something Penn State wasn’t able to do on a regular basis. C.J. Brown finished 18-for-38 with 161 yards and a touchdown, and was able to get Maryland into position for the game winner.

“We made some big plays at critical times, but not consistently enough,” said Franklin.

One of the big plays they were able to pull off looked like it would give the Nittany Lions the win.

Penn State was in a 3rd-and-23 situation after a rocky series, but quarterback Christian Hackenberg was able to find Geno Lewis down the left sideline for a gain of 33. The big play moved the Lions into field goal range and as the drive stalled, Sam Ficken was able to connect from 48 yards out to give Penn State the lead.

Ficken was the star for the Nittany Lions on a day where Penn State’s offense was sub-par, at best. The senior kicker was 4-4, hitting three field goals from 46 yards or longer. He was able to make tough kicks under pressure, something that seemed unrealistic to Penn State fans just two seasons ago.

Ficken was forced into long field goal attempts as the offense continued to struggle.  Hackenberg was constantly under pressure, as he was sacked five times. The offensive line also didn’t generate much of a push in the run game resulting in just 42 yards on 41 rushing attempts for the Nittany Lions.

“We’ve been struggling all year long, we’ve had depth issues and we lost our starting left tackle and that magnifies it,” Franklin said.

The Terrapins defense has had its share of struggles this season, but held Penn State to just 219 yards of total offense. Sean Davis led the way with 11 tackles for the Terps, while Likely picked off a pass early in the contest as Penn State was moving in to score.

“The early pick was a big play in the game. We were moving the ball and it gave them a big momentum swing,” said Franklin.

Hackenberg wasn’t the same after the pick, fighting through a stretch where he completed just two of 14 attempts after a six-for-seven start. He finished 18-for-42 with 177 yards.

In the third quarter, it seemed he was overcoming his struggles after Anthony Zettel recovered a fumble and Penn State went on the move. Hackenberg proceeded to complete six passes in a row, ending with a Jesse James touchdown. James’ touchdown was the 11th of his career, giving him the most touchdown receptions by a tight end in school history. DaeSean Hamilton also etched his name into the record books, passing Deion Butler for the most receiving yards by a freshman in school history.

After James’ touchdown, everything unraveled for the Nittany Lions, as they dropped their fourth straight contest after starting 4-0. Penn State (4-4) will head out to Indiana on Saturday to take on the Hoosiers.

 “There’s no magic potion, no wave of the wand. You have to keep your nose to grindstone and keep working,” Hackenberg said.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/York Daily Record, Chris Dunn)

Jeff Jezewski is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jeffjez13@gmail.com.