COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Receiver Jahan Dotson caught three touchdown passes, including one for a career-long 86 yards, as Penn State defeated Maryland 31-14 to snap a three-game losing streak.
Dotson caught 11 passes for a school-record 242 yards, breaking the former single-game mark set by Deon Butler against Northwestern in 2006. Dotson also became just the fourth player in school history with 200 yards in a game.
A look at Penn State's third consecutive win at Maryland and 41st in the series.
Jahan Dotson's spectacular night
After Maryland's offense tied the game 14-14 early in the fourth quarter, defensive end Greg Rose flattened Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford from the backside on first down. Maryland Stadium erupted, sensing a turn of fortune.
Then Dotson quieted them again. The receiver sheared through Maryland's secondary for an 86-yard touchdown reception that gave the Lions a 21-14 lead, The touchdown was his third, tying a career-high, and punctuated a marvelous night that included a sequence of gems.
Dotson twisted a defensive back with a double move in the first quarter for a touchdown. In the second quarter, he made a leaping touchdown catch of a ball that should have sailed over his head. And on the third, Dotson demonstrated the breakaway speed to which he devoted his offseason.
Dotson scored touchdowns on back-to-back receptions and finished the game with 22 career touchdown receptions, tying Deon Butler for third on Penn State's career list. He was the essence of a Penn State offense that has lacked big plays of late.
Penn State's key drive
After whatever that was to end the first half (more later), Penn State came out firing to start the third quarter. The Lions scored on a 14-play, 95-yard drive that Dotson capped with a spectacular 21-yard reception.
The series, however, spun around quarterback Sean Clifford, who completed seven of eight passes for an offense that converted three third downs. And the run game mustered some meager success, led by Keyvone Lee's 31 yards.
Penn State strained offensively so much against the Terps, but this went down as one of the season's best drives.
Now back to the first half
Penn State led 7-6 with 1:15 remaining and three timeouts when it took possession at its own 25-yard line. What coach James Franklin chose to do was perplexing.
The Lions ran twice, threw an incompletion, then ran once more, all without calling a timeout. Finally, after John Lovett's 7-yard gain, Franklin called a timeout with 3 seconds remaining. And took a knee.
Had Penn State planned to run out the clock, why not try a return? (Lee made a fair catch on the kickoff.). Had they planned to play conservatively, why roll Clifford and call the pass play? And why not take a shot at getting into field-goal range with three timeouts, particularly when the Terps got the ball to start the second half trailing by one?
Penn State has given up 300 yards passing in consecutive weeks. After Ohio State's C.J. Stroud threw for 305, Taulia Tagovailoa topped him with 334.
Despite that, however, Maryland managed just 14 points. And Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown delivered the game's exclamation point, returning an interception 87 yards for a touchdown with 2:39 remaining.
Penn State defensive end Jesse Luketa was in uniform but did not play.