Penn State loses 20-19 to Maryland
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Even Penn State's stellar defense couldn't save the team after a continuation of its season-long punting woes.
Maryland took advantage of a short field following a 37-yard punt by Penn State, and the Terrapins' Brad Craddock kicked a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left for a 20-19 come-from-behind win over the Nittany Lions on Saturday.
The victory made Maryland bowl-eligible and extended Penn State's (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) losing streak to four games. It was Maryland's first-ever win at Beaver Stadium in a series it now trails 35-2-1. It was the first time in Penn State history that the Nittany Lions had played an overtime game and one-point game consecutively.
''You win with offense, defense and special teams; you lose with offense, defense and special teams. That's how it is,'' Penn State coach James Franklin said. ''We made some plays at critical times, but not consistently. We dropped some balls that we don't normally drop, especially when we needed guys to step up and make plays.''
Trailing 16-7 late in the third quarter, the Terps (6-3, 3-2) moved ahead after quarterback C.J. Brown engineered back-to-back scoring drives, aided by Alex Twine's fumble recovery on a Penn State kickoff return.
Penn State's Sam Ficken kicked his fourth field goal with 6:52 remaining to give the Nittany Lions a 19-17 lead.
The Terps held Penn State (4-4, 1-4) to a three-and-out, and William Likely returned the 37-yard Penn State punt 15 yards to the Lions' 42. Maryland's Wes Brown took a 13-yard pass from C.J. Brown to the 29, and three plays later, Craddock converted his 14th straight field goal for the winning margin.
The Terps, who limited Penn State to 219 total yards, again held the Nittany Lions on downs to seal the victory.
''We're having issues right now playing field position games. We're having a hard time swinging field position on special teams,'' Franklin said.
Maryland registered just 196 total yards, but limited Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg to 177 yards passing and the Nittany Lions to 42 yards rushing.
''I really can't explain it. It hurts,'' Hackenberg said. ''You want to dig guys out of it and you want to do it for everyone else, so that's what I'm going to continue to try to do.''
Penn State got a break late in the third quarter after the teams had traded six punts. Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel forced Maryland running back Wes Brown to fumble, and C.J. Olaniyan recovered.
Hackenberg got hot and completed two passes each to DaeSean Hamilton and tight end Kyle Carter, moving to the Maryland 8.
He found Jesse James in the corner of the end zone for a score. With the reception, James became Penn State's career leader in touchdown passes caught by a tight end with 11.
Maryland's Brown countered by finding Deon Long for 22 yards, and hit Stefon Diggs with back-to-back 12-yard passes to the Penn State 9.
But Wes Brown fumbled a C.J. Brown pitch on third down, and Brad Craddock kicked his 13th straight field goal of the season from 25 yards out to close it to 16-10.
Penn State's Grant Haley fumbled the ensuing kickoff and C.J. Brown, after losing 10 yards on an Austin Johnson sack, found Amba Etta-Tawo for 25 yards. Diggs got to the 1 on an 8-yard pass, and Wes Brown plunged in for the go-ahead score.
Maryland was penalized 15 yards on the opening kickoff for refusing to shake hands during the coin toss.
''That's just disrespectful,'' linebacker Mike Hull said. ''But what are you going to do? They beat us today and we didn't take care of business.''
There was also a minor shoving incident between the two teams during pregame warmups.
Hackenberg was 8 of 21 for 74 yards. He was sacked four times, had a bandage applied to his lower left leg, had his left thumb and hand examined on the sideline and struggled through a passing streak in which he was 1 of 11. He was clearly frustrated throughout the game.
''We each have to back him up. We've got to stay behind him 100 percent. I know he's a little frustrated. We all are,'' Lewis said. ''We all have to trust in each other. We're one team. No one's going to be able to break us apart. We're going to keep grinding, keep sticking it out.''