Penn State Downs Maryland in Regular Season Finale
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – It was Penn State head coach James Franklin’s first visit to the University of Maryland since he had departed as the offensive coordinator seven years ago.
While it might have seemed like a bittersweet moment for Franklin, he and his team ignored the noise and were able to take care of business and down their opponents.
After shutting out the Maryland Terrapins in the first half, 31-0, the No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions went on to win, 66-3, and improve to 10-2, 7-2 in the Big Ten.
This was Penn State’s best offensive outing of the season and its largest margin of victory as well.
It was also the second time in history that Penn State scored more than 60 points against the Terrapins.
Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens stole the show and had a game-high 113 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns after starting quarterback Trace McSorley was permitted the rest of the day off.
Before Stevens took over the signal-calling duties, McSorley was 22 for 33, with 237 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air.
The Virginia native added 36 more yards and a rushing TD, too.
Junior running back Saquon Barkley and senior tight end Mike Gesicki each had two touchdowns of their own.
Barkley finished with 77 rushing yards and two scores, while Gesicki caught two TD passes from McSorley.
The Penn State defense stifled any plans that Maryland had of moving the ball.
The Terrapins became the fifth opponent that the Nittany Lions have held to single digits.
While allowing just over 300 total yards to Maryland, Penn State was able to recover two fumbles and convert them both into touchdowns.
Freshman cornerbacks Zech McPhearson and Tariq Castro-Fields came up with the free balls.
Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and the Nittany Lions opened up the play calling early on with a fake reverse that led to Stevens’ first rushing touchdown of the afternoon.
Later in the first quarter, McSorley barreled his way into the end zone for Penn State's second TD of the game, putting the team ahead, 14-0.
Gesicki would get involved in the action after that with his two scores.
The first came on a shuffle pass from McSorley from just a few yards out to put the Nittany Lions ahead, 21-0.
Then, Gesicki snagged a 9-yard pass from No. 9 with only one hand to extend the lead even further.
After the midpoint of the third quarter, Stevens entered the game and began to cause more headaches for Maryland head coach DJ Durkin and the Terrapin defense.
His first drive began from the Penn State 35-yard line and ended with a diving touchdown catch by tight end Tom Pancoast.
With 2:37 remaining in the third, Maryland finally got on the scoreboard with a 42-yard Henry Darmstadter field goal.
Penn State controlled the entire fourth quarter adding two more touchdowns, courtesy of Stevens’ legs.
Since Ohio State clinched the Big Ten East, Franklin and company must wait until the bowl season for their next game.
Zach Seyko is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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