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Maryland rallies to upend Penn State 20-19

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Maryland's Brad Craddock kicked a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left to beat Penn State 20-19 and send the Nittany Lions to their fourth consecutive loss.

STATE COLLEGE, PA -- On fourth-and-one, down two points, with under 30 seconds left in the game, Christian Hackenberg lined up under center for a quarterback sneak to keep the game alive for Penn State.

But, instead of picking up the first down and continuing the drive, the play never got underway, as Hackenberg dropped the ball and failed to gain the yard, turning the ball over on downs.

The play was indicative of the struggles for the Nittany Lions (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) offense in their 20-19 loss to Maryland (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

“The most frustrating thing is seeing our defense play their hearts out and us not being able to return the favor for them,” receiver DaeSean Hamilton said. “They’re one of the best defenses in the nation right now and us going out there and laying eggs on some drives is one of the most frustrating things you could go through as a player.”

In the contest, the Lions mustered 219 yards of total offense—42 on the ground and 177 through the air—and just one touchdown. They also lost three fumbles and Hackenberg threw one interception on the day.

The sophomore quarterback finished 18-of-42 for 177 yards with a touchdown to Jesse James, who had five catches for 48 yards.

The defense, meanwhile, recorded six sacks, forced three fumbles, recovering two of them, along with three other tackles for losses. The unit was put in bad situations all game due to the turnovers coupled with poor punting, as Daniel Pasquariello averaged 36.8 yards per punt in eight tries.

Lions coach James Franklin said his defense has responded well to being in situations where it’s back is up against the wall.

“Since week one, we’ve understood that it’s an adversity that we’ve got to face,” defensive end Deion Barnes said. “...It’s not really tough for us, we just understand that we’ve got to keep stopping them.”

In a back-and-forth first half, the Lions took an early 3-0 lead only to have Terrapins quarterback C.J. Brown complete a two-yard pass to P.J. Gallo to grab the lead. Two straight field goals from Ficken then put the Lions ahead 9-7 at halftime.

“[Ficken] has been playing extremely well,” Franklin said. “...You’re talking about a veteran player who’s seen it and done it and that shows up on the field.”

In the third quarter, the Lions grabbed their only touchdown of the day on a drive where Hackenberg completed six-of-six passes, capping it off with an 8-yard jump-ball to Jesse James in the end zone to give his team a 16-7 lead at the time.

“I think we did a lot of good things,” Hackenberg said. “We also did some bad things. But we’re just going to take what we find and what the coaching staff feels was positive and build on that.”

After a 10-point Maryland run, Ficken hit a 48-yard field goal—his longest of the day—to put the Lions ahead 19-17 in the fourth quarter, but the lead would be short-lived.

A 37-yard punt set Maryland up with good field position and the Terps got into Craddock’s field goal range. The kicker hit a 43-yard field goal to put his team up for good.Penn State Sam Ficken

The Lions were then not able to gain a first down, culminating in Hackenberg’s fumble to turn the ball over and put the game on ice.

After starting off 4-0, the Lions have lost four straight, but Franklin said like always, the team will be back to work on Sunday preparing for Indiana.

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do,” Franklin said. “We’re going to work through this.”

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