Blue White Illustrated

December 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 7 of 67

8 D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 1 OPENING SHOT WHAT GOES UP … Penn State's offense may be having its ups and downs this season, but so are opposing offenses. Case in point: Maryland running back Challen Faa- matau. The 225-pound senior tried to elevate over Penn State senior linebacker Ellis Brooks (No. 13), redshirt sophomore cornerback Daequan Hardy (center) and fifth-year senior cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (No. 5). It did not go well. Faamatau came crashing back to the turf, part of a defensive effort by the Nittany Lions that kept the Terrapins' dangerous, Taulia Tagovailoa-led of- fense from taking control of the game. The Lions' 31-14 road victory at Maryland on Nov. 6 echoed many of their earlier games this season in that they gave up some yards in the mid- dle of the field but toughened up in the red zone. The Terps ran more plays than Penn State (85 to 80) and had more first downs (29 to 23) but only got two scores out of their five red-zone chances. Senior receiver Jahan Dotson was the star for PSU, catching 11 passes for a school-record 242 yards and three touchdowns, but it was a defen- sive play that clinched the victory. With Maryland at the Penn State 13-yard line and looking to cut the Lions' lead to just a field goal with under three minutes to play, senior safety Ji'Ayir Brown stepped in front of a Tagovailoa pass and dashed 87 yards to the opposite end zone. "We always go into every game looking for that moment," Brown said. "We're always trying to score on defense. A three-and-out, a punt — that's the least of what we expect. We want to get a turnover. We want to score on defense. That's how we approach every game." It was the fourth interception of the season for Brown and his second takeaway of the after- noon. Late in the third quarter, he ended another Maryland threat when he picked up a ball that had ricocheted around the Terps' backfield after a bad snap. To Brown, the takeaways were a byproduct of the game plan that defensive coordinator Brent Pry had put together to handle the Terps, who had shredded Penn State in a 35-19 victory last year at Beaver Stadium. "Coach Pry called a great defense," Brown said, "and I was able to execute, being in the right place at the right time." PHOTO BY STEVE MANUEL

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