Near the start of the second quarter at Beaver Stadium, Penn State faced 3rd down and 19 yards, down 7-3. Christian Hackenberg threw a pass directly into the hands of linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, who returned it about 50 yards for a Maryland touchdown, to put the Terps up 14-3.
Or so it looked.
Yannick Ngakoue was flagged for roughing Hackenberg, not only nullifying Cudjoe-Virgil's interception and touchdown, but giving Penn State an automatic first down. Ngakoue's hit came after the ball left Hackenberg's hand, but it wasn't especially late. It'll be interesting to hear Maryland's reaction to that call after the game.
From there, Penn State drove slowly into position for a Sam Ficken 25-yard field goal. An Anthony Nixon pass interference call helped that drive along, and Penn State tacked on another Ficken field goal later to take a 9-7 lead.
On Ficken's third field goal, Randy Edsall could have pushed Penn State back 10 yards by accepting a third-down holding call. But Edsall chose to decline the penalty, setting up Ficken for a 46-yard try, which he made.
P.J. Gallo, earlier in the quarter, collected a touchdown pass from C.J. Brown from the 2-yard line to give Maryland a lead it looked like it might hold for longer.
At the end of the half, Hackenberg and Maryland's Brandon Ross traded lost fumbles, before Penn State kneeled out the clock deep in its own territory.
Some notes from the half:
- Brown and Hackenberg were both terrible. Brown was 8-of-18 for 38 yards, and Hackenberg was 8-of-21 for 74 yards. Both had a series of awful misses. Brown made a few nice throws over the course of the half, but he had left number of makable plays on the field.
- Andre Monroe had his 22nd career sack, vaulting him into a tie with Shawn Merriman for second on the team's all-time sacks list, per Maryland.
- Will Likely had his fifth interception of the season.
- Nathan Renfro's punts averaged 45 yards.