Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penn State 38, Maryland 14 Nittany Lions Chaotic in Win

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penn State 38, Maryland 14 Nittany Lions Chaotic in Win

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Like stopping the gas pump at an even gallon and dollar amount or sticking the USB drive into the port the right way on the first try, Penn State's win against Maryland Saturday was oddly satisfying.

Because after a week of dissecting why the Nittany Lions couldn't seem to start performing until after halftime, the team came out and put together a terrific first offensive and defensive drive en route to a 38-14 Big Ten Conference win at Beaver Stadium.

It was fist-clenching fulfilling.

Penn State (4-2, 1-1) ran seven plays for 84 yards in two minutes, 27 seconds on the opening drive, culminating in a 5-yard touchdown pass from redshirt sophomore Trace McSorley to junior tight end Mike Gesicki. That was the first time scoring a touchdown on the first drive since a 16-14 loss at Illinois in 2014.

And then on the next defensive drive, defensive ends redshirt junior Garrett Sickels and redshirt senior Evan Schwan recorded back-to-to back sacks of Central Catholic product Perry Hills on second and third down to force a Maryland punt.

Penn State had trailed opponents, 92-54 - including 41-3 in the previous two conference games - in the first halves entering this game, while Maryland (4-1, 1-1) outscored its opponents in the first half, 105-14. But the Nittany Lions flipped that statistic against the Terrapins, posting 24 points to Maryland's 14 in the first half. Pairing that with the usual solid second-half performance - Penn State had a 26-point advantage in the second half and overtime entering this game - made for the best outing so far this season for Penn State.

And while coach James Franklin introduced a "chaos period" at the beginning of practices this week to throw the players and coordinators into mystery situations while also starting the session off fast and competitive, he didn't want to take responsibility for the "huge" turnaround.

"It's easy for me to come in here as the head coach and say, 'We put in this chaos period, and that's why we scored on the opening drive this week,'" Franklin said. …

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