Penn State Football

Penn State’s fast start paves way to halftime lead over Maryland

Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki scores the first touchdown of the game against Maryland as the Nittany Lions lead 24-14 at the half.
Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki scores the first touchdown of the game against Maryland as the Nittany Lions lead 24-14 at the half. psheehan@centredaily.com

Penn State leads Maryland 24-14 at halftime of Saturday’s matchup at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State finally got the fast start it has wanted for the last five games.

Quarterback Trace McSorley marched his team downfield in 2 1/2 minutes, capping the seven-play drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Gesicki. The 84-yard drive was highlighted by a game-opening 21-yard pass to receiver DaeSean Hamilton, and runs of 20 and 17 yards by running back Saquon Barkley and McSorley, respectively.

Back-to-back sacks on Maryland’s following series by defensive ends Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan (the latter on third down and 17) forced the Terrapins to punt.

A penalty on third down halted a Penn State drive, and Maryland answered with a 66-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown halfway through the first period.

Linebacker Brandon Smith had his first career interception later in the quarter, but Penn State was held to a field goal on the following drive. Tyler Davis booted a 30-yard field goal to open the second quarter and push the Nittany Lions’ lead to 10-7. Davis is 18 for 18 in his career, which is a school record.

Penn State scored again with just over six minutes left in the second quarter off a slick fake-then-handoff to Barkley for a touchdown, but a holding penalty on offensive lineman Ryan Bates brought it back.

McSorley faked the same play moments later, but instead kept the ball and ran it in himself for the touchdown.

The two teams traded a fumble and recovery apiece and Penn State got the ball back inside the 20-yard line with two minutes left in the half. The Nittany Lions was forced to punt after offensive tackle Andrew Nelson gave up a sack for loss. Nelson was injured on the play and had to leave the game on a cart.

Maryland quarterback Perry Hills was injured on the Terps’ next drive, and freshman Tyrell Pigrome ran in a seven-yard touchdown on the play immediately following Hills’ exit.

Barkley broke loose on a 45-yard run to end the half with a Penn State score.

Check back for an updated story.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 814-231-4629, @JourdanRodrigue

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