Nov 1, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Maryland Terrapins wide receiver Stefon Diggs (1) returns a kickoff against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
With Maryland moving to the Big Ten, it was time to create some new rivalries.
From the pregame antics of both teams and a nail-biting finish, a rivalry was born between the Terrapins and Penn State.
Despite trailing a good amount of the game, Maryland edged Penn State as kicker Brad Craddock connected on a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left to give the Terps a 20-19 victory on the road to become bowl eligible.
It was only Maryland’s second win against the Nittany Lions in their history.
It wasn’t the greatest start for the Terps as the first two drives resulted in punts, despite the Nittany Lions getting 30 penalty yards courtesy of a single play by defensive back Marcus Allen (late hit and unsportsmanlike conduct). Allen had another questionable play and hit wideout Stefon Diggs late to give Maryland a first and goal. Quarterback C.J. Brown then hit tight end P.J. Gallo wide open in the back of the end zone to give the Terps a 7-3 lead.
The story for the Nittany Lions was the clutch kicking of Sam Ficken. Ficken hit four field goals during the game, including three in the first half to give the Nittany Lions a 9-7 halftime lead.
The third quarter was not kind to the Terps. Maryland’s first four possessions of the half resulted in three punts and a fumble by running back Wes Brown. The fumble resulted in a Christian Hackenberg touchdown pass to tight end Jesse James to put the Nittany Lions up 16-7.
Maryland was able to answer as C.J. Brown moved the offense down the field, courtesy of a pair of tough catches by Diggs. On third down and goal, Brown tossed to Wes Brown, who couldn’t handle the pitch and the Terps had to settle for a field goal.
While it was certainly a missed opportunity, Penn State kick returner Grant Haley fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff and linebacker Alex Twine fell on it for Maryland at the Penn State 24-yard line. Wes Brown was able to cash in three plays later for a one-yard touchdown to make it a 17-16 game. Despite the costly fumble, Wes Brown saw the field well at times.
With 6:52 to go, Ficken connected on another field goal for the Nittany Lions to give them the lead back. That set the stage for Craddock’s late-game heroics after some missed opportunities by the Maryland offense.
It was an ugly game from an offensive standpoint, but the Maryland defensive line got pressure on Hackenberg all game. The defense stood tall on several occasions and forced field goals instead of allowing touchdowns. Penn State only gained 219 yards the entire game and 42 were on the ground.
Diggs, who arguably could’ve been ejected putting his hand on an official during the pregame no handshake situation, didn’t have a catch in the first half, but caught six passes for 53 yards, and was very instrumental in the Maryland win.
With the big win in Happy Valley, Maryland now has two weeks to prepare for a home prime-time showdown with Michigan State on Nov. 15.