No. 12 Penn State blows out Maryland (again) 59-0
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Penn State did everything necessary to secure another easy victory over Maryland - passed efficiently, ran effectively and played relentless defense.
And, as usual, the Terrapins offered little resistance.
Sean Clifford threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns, ran for a score and carried No. 12 Penn State to a typically easy victory over Maryland, a 59-0 blowout Friday night that typified the one-sided nature of this regional series.
Penn State scored on its first four possessions, led 38-0 at halftime and finished with 619 yards in its Big Ten opener. After Jan Johnson got things started by ending Maryland's first possession with an interception, Clifford cruised into the end zone from the 8 and the rout was on.
"Right from the start we didn't give ourselves a chance, and for us, that was the disappointing part," first-year coach Mike Locksley said.
After halftime, most of fans remaining from a rare sellout crowd of 53,228 at Maryland were the several thousand cheering for the Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0).
"It was one of the more complete games that we have played in our six years, really in all three phases," said coach James Franklin, a former Maryland assistant who took over at Penn State in 2014.
Clifford said, "I agree with that 100 percent. You win a lot of games when teams don't score and we score a lot. That's just down to basics. I'm really proud of how both sides executed today, special teams as well. It was a complete win."
Because the Terrapins (2-2, 0-1) won their first two games at home by a combined 122 points and Penn State was coming off a tight 17-10 win over Pittsburgh, the Nittany Lions were favored by only a touchdown.
But past performances held true. Penn State leads the series 40-2-1, winning the previous three by scores of 38-14, 66-3, 38-3 before adding this romp - the Terrapins' worst home shutout lost ever - to the list.
How can Maryland turn it around?
"Good teams don't beat themselves," Locksley said.
Maryland had three turnovers, was penalized nine times for 85 yards and tackled poorly.
Clifford threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to KJ Hamler for a 14-0 lead, connected with Nick Bowerson on a 15-yarder to make it 28-0 and hit Journey Brown for 37 yards for a 35-point cushion.
After making his 14-for-30 performance against Pittsburgh a distant memory, Clifford remained on the sideline with 5:45 left in the third quarter and Penn State up 45-0.
"I took that Pitt game very personal," Clifford said. "I had a lot of issues that I saw on the tape. I knew that I needed to make some corrections to be where we want to be."
Clifford, a redshirt sophomore, made his fourth start following the departure of standout Trace McSorley (now with the Ravens). Perhaps the only flaw in his 26-for-31 gem was that he now has one interception to go with his 11 TD passes.
Maryland, meanwhile, has regressed terribly after winning its first two games under Locksley. The Terrapins were ranked No. 21 after beating then-No. 21 Syracuse on Sept. 7, but an ugly loss at Temple and this embarrassing defeat has left Locksley searching for answers.
Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson, who was so impressive during the first two weeks, has since struggled. His second pass of the night was picked off and he finished 10 for 21 for 65 yards and two interceptions.
The Terrapins garnered only 128 yards in offense. Until late in the fourth quarter, Clifford had more yards rushing (54) than the entire Maryland backfield.
Penn State LB Micah Parsons was ejected for targeting after he ran over Jackson in the pocket midway through the first quarter. Maryland DB Deon Jones was called for targeting on a second-quarter tackle of Justin Shorter and ejected.
This blowout could get Penn State into the Top 10. Though Maryland was obviously overrated, Penn State dominated from start to finish on the road in a Big Ten game. That's not easy to do.
"The environment there to start the game was challenging and we handled it really well," Franklin said.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions put together a near-flawless first half and emphatically addressed Franklin's concern about "being better on third down" offensively and defensively. Penn State went 7 for 7 on third down before finally coming up short. Maryland finished 4 for 15.
Maryland: This looks nothing like the team that throttled Howard and Syracuse in the first two games. This loss, on top of the one at Temple, negates all the optimism generated by the 2-0 start that had Locksley looking like a miracle maker.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions open the home portion of their Big Ten schedule next Saturday against Purdue. Penn State leads the series 14-3-1, including a 62-24 rout in the last meeting in 2016.
Maryland: The Terrapins look to get back over .500 with a trip to Rutgers on Saturday.
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Updated September 28, 2019