A nail-biter in Baltimore: Nittany Lions squeak past Maryland, 31-30

A nail-biter in Baltimore: Nittany Lions squeak past Maryland, 31-30

The Nittany Lions (6-2, 2-1) were responsible for hundreds of raised heart rates this past Saturday as they took on the University of Maryland Terrapins (2-5, 0-3) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

As per usual, fans and alumni of Penn State traveled well. Nearly all of the tailgating fields scattered throughout Baltimore were filled with far more blue and white than red. With a whole day to tailgate thanks to a 3:30 p.m. kickoff, Penn State had plenty of time to prepare themselves for what many thought would be a blowout in the Lions’ favor.

From the start it was clear that this was not going to be an easy game. With a mostly full stadium brimming with tangible excitement, both teams came out with incredible adrenaline, but made careless errors such as fumbles that resulted in turnovers for both competitors.

Thanks to solid defense from the Terps, Penn State was immediately limited when it came to running the ball. Fortunately, junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) has a tremendous passing game and demonstrated that on Saturday. Although he completed just 13 passes, they were ones that made a huge difference.

Sophomore wide receiver Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del.), who was awarded Ironman of the game, caught four passes for 135 yards, and redshirt sophomore DaeSean Hamilton (Fredericksburg, Va.) notched 96 yards on five passes.

Speaking about his fantastic game, Godwin stated, “It’s definitely awesome because you realize you have to go out and make some plays that you’re capable of doing and was able to do that today.”

Penn State had the lead for most of the game. It was not until the third quarter that Maryland assumed the lead at 20-17 thanks to a successful march down the turf. It was that drive that led to the blood-pressure-raising back and forth scoring that occurred for the rest of the competition.

Hackenberg then threw a 20 yard pass to Hamilton who notched a touchdown. Maryland returned the favor in due time. However, it would be redshirt junior wide receiver Geno Lewis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) who caught the final touchdown pass of the game late in the fourth quarter, snagging the ball out of the air, just out of reach of a Maryland defender’s hands.

Head Coach James Franklin began his press conference by stating that the team was “resilient tonight.”

“There was adversity that we faced. There were highs and lows. There were big plays and plays that we have to clean up,” noted Franklin.

Franklin also commended the stellar performances of all receivers on Saturday.

“I was proud of all of them. They are doing a good job, with the opportunities that they get…I am really proud of ,” stated Franklin.

Hackenberg surpassed former Penn State quarter back Zack Mills’ career passing yards of 7,212 and 606 completions on Saturday with a new high of 7,453 passing yards and 608 completions.

Speaking about the win, Hackenberg said that this was “huge for our team.”

“We all came in and we made plays when we needed to make plays. Defense made plays for us, offense made plays, our receiving corps, our line, they battled through a lot of stuff today,” commented Hackenberg.

Despite some shaky moments, Penn State rallied in its characteristic way and proved that they have what it takes to pull out a win in the face of adversity. Not only was the game athletically impressive, but epitomized what college football is all about: endlessly supporting one’s school and staying positive until the final play. M&T Bank Stadium’s reverberating energy stayed strong until the final score was posted on the board.

Likewise, with this win, Penn State’s sixth of the season, the Nittany Lions are now bowl eligible for the second year in a row.

Fans can look forward to another home game at Beaver Stadium this weekend with a noon kickoff against Illinois this Halloween Saturday.