Feature photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.
Penn State started with the ball on their 30-yard line, working with 41 seconds to pad their three-point lead over Maryland before halftime. Many teams would look to throw to preserve the clock.
The Nittany Lions stuck with running back Saquon Barkley. He ran for 25 yards on the first play to the Maryland 45 and was stuffed for no gain seconds later. Close to field goal range, coach James Franklin called timeout and again opted for Barkley over passing.
He rewarded the coach’s decision by outrunning the defense for 45 yards to close the half with a touchdown and a 24-14 advantage.
“Just really indescribable [that] series on how we played on defense, in all facets,” coach DJ Durkin said. “We didn’t call it well, and we didn’t execute it well, just flat out. For them in 52 seconds to run the ball, in four plays or whatever it was all the way down the field, just can’t even describe how bad.”
The sophomore back erupted for a career-best 202 yards on 31 carries as the Nittany Lions pounded the quarterback-depleted Terrapins 38-14. Barkley broke Penn State’s freshman record with 1,076 rushing yards last year, but this was his first 100-yard effort in 2016 since he ran for 105 in the opener against Kent State.
“The 200 yards is really all the O-line today,” Barkley said. “I didn’t do anything spectacular, I didn’t make any crazy plays. I was just patient and I let the O-line go to work.”
On one first down in the third quarter, Barkley hurdled cornerback Will Likely and made two additional tacklers miss before spinning for a first down. Likely got payback a play later, punching the football loose from Barkley’s hands and falling on it.
Maryland held Purdue to just 10 rushing yards last week, but surrendered 372 Saturday. In total, Penn State outgained the Terps 524 yards to 270.
After several brief drives, Maryland was down 17-7 late in the second quarter. Running back Lorenzo Harrison started to build momentum for the Terps with a flashy 26-yard run that took the offense into the red zone. Quarterback Perry Hills kept the ball on a read option on the next play, but was hit high and hard by Malik Golden while lunging forward.
After trainers brought Hills off the field for his second shoulder injury in three games, freshman Tyrrell Pigrome took over. Just like the first time it happened against Central Florida, Pigrome ran for a touchdown on his first play.
Maryland and Pigrome did not find the same success in the second half as Hills watched from the sideline.
“[Hills] is about as tough as they come,” Durkin said. “He was wanting to come back in. I didn’t think it was the best interest for [Hills] or our team to put him back in harm’s way.”
Knowing Maryland would have to use a smaller playbook with the freshman quarterback, Penn State dared the Terps to beat them with the passing game.
Pigrome completed five of nine throws for 28 yards and rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries, finding it hard to gain more than three or four yards at a time. Maryland did not score in the second half, punting five times and turning it over on downs in desperation twice.
Penn State held Maryland to a season-low of 170 rushing yards. Running back Ty Johnson rushed for 204 yards on seven carries last Saturday for the Terps to win Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.
Johnson had Maryland’s lone receiving touchdown, a screen he took 66 yards blazing past Penn State and safety Marcus Allen, the conference’s reigning defensive player of the week. Allen ended the day with seven tackles, while Johnson finished with 69 yards receiving and 11 rushing.
Quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns while scrambling for 81 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
“We obviously knew going into the game that he was certainly capable of running the ball and scrambling, it wasn’t like we weren’t playing him well,” Durkin said. “We weren’t playing within the scheme. It was like they hit us on a couple plays and all of a sudden we had everyone trying to make every play as opposed to just making the ones you’re supposed to. Just some silly mistakes out there on the field.”
McSorley put the game out of reach with a deep bomb to DeAndre Thompkins on the last play of the third quarter. Cornerback J.C. Jackson appeared to slip just before the ball came to Thompkins, who ran undisturbed for a 70-yard touchdown. The score gave Penn State a 31-14 lead.
Miles Sanders ran his lone attempt 25 yards into the end zone to finalize the score at 38-14.
Penn State tarnished Maryland’s undefeated 4-0 record and moved to 4-2 themselves. Next week, Maryland plays Minnesota, whom Penn State survived 29-26 in overtime last Saturday.