No. 12 Penn State hammers Maryland 59-0 in Terps' Blackout game
What was supposed to be a special Friday night for a sold-out crowd of over 53,000 fans turned out to be a brutal affair, as Penn State powered over Maryland, holding them scoreless for the first time this season in their 59-0 victory.
Coming off their first loss of the season against Temple two weeks ago, the Terps looked out of rhythm and undisciplined on both sides of the ball.
Junior quarterback Josh Jackson did not look like the player who threw for seven touchdowns and only one interception during the first two weeks of the season. He was under constant pressure and looked inaccurate at times, finishing his night with only 65 passing yards and throwing two interceptions.
The defense in their last game had been able to carry Jackson despite his struggles but allowed many big plays, missed tackles and did not resemble the cohesive unit weeks prior. Albeit they had one interception, they did not register a single sack, and allowed 30 first downs and 619 yards of total offense.
Senior offensive linemen Ellis McKennie said that the team just needs to regroup and play better on both sides of the ball.
“This was a team loss at the end of the day,” McKennie said. “We need to work together to play better complementary football on all three phases.”
The student section quickly filled up well before kick-off started, as multiple sections had to be added to accommodate for the number of extra seats needed for the “Blackout” theme, but cleared out just as, if not faster, as Maryland continued to dig themselves into a deep hole throughout the night.
53,288 people in attendance marked the 6th highest ever in school history, and the largest crowd since the Terps hosted West Virginia in 2011.
“Our fans created a heck of an environment for us today and we didn’t go out and do our job,” Locksley said. “It’s disappointing.”
Aided by an interception from Jackson and two penalties committed by Maryland on the return, the Nittany Lions started their first drive of the game on the Terps’ eight-yard line. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford scored on an eight-yard run to go up 7-0 within the first three minutes of the game and did not look back.
Penn State neutralized the Terps’ high-powered offense that looked nearly unstoppable during the first two weeks of the season. They held Maryland to 94 total yards and only eight first downs in the first half as they went into halftime with a 38-0 lead.
Terps’ head coach Mike Locksley attributed the poor showing on offense to a lack of confidence and said the team will get back in their groove once they start believing in themselves again and playing with more effort.
The second half did not get any better for Maryland, as they looked outmatched against their Big Ten rivals. The Nittany Lions continued to move the ball with ease, scoring three more touchdowns, compared to the Terps who could only muster one first down.
Clifford, on the other hand, put on a clinic Friday night as he threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns and had only having five incompletions. He also added 54 rushing yards to go along with his first-quarter score.
Senior linebacker Keandre Jones said that while the defense had a tough time against Clifford, mistakes like missed tackles and penalties are fixable with better preparation.
“It’s all on us,” Jones said. “We have to prepare better and just keep moving on. It’s a long season and we still have eight games.”
Sophomore running back Anthony McFarland was held to 24 scoreless rushing yards, the first time this season he has been held without a touchdown.
Regardless of the score, Locksley said that the team’s 24-hour rule will still take place, and after Saturday they will start fresh and move onto Rutgers next week.
“We’ll watch the tape and figure out things we didn’t execute and go back to the drawing board,” Locksley said. “We have to digest it out of our systems and get ready for Rutgers next week.”
The Nittany Lions leads the all-time series against the Terps, 40-2-1.
Maryland will visit SHI Stadium on Oct. 5 to face Rutgers at noon.