BALTIMORE — At one point Saturday there was a jump ball in the end zone, and Maryland safety Anthony Nixon had a grasp on the left arm of Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin.
No matter — Godwin came up with it.
At another point — one of the bigger points, as it turned out — Christian Hackenberg appeared to overthrow Geno Lewis.
And Lewis went up and grabbed the pass.
It was that kind of day for Penn State’s receiving corps. Maryland’s defense challenged them to make plays, again and again.
And again and again, they made them.
Hackenberg, 13-for-29 in the game, threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, with the one to Lewis — a 27-yarder with 13:39 left — holding up as the game-winner.
Godwin, whose 51-yard TD came late in the first half, had four catches for 135 yards. DaeSean Hamilton, who came back to catch a back-shoulder fade for a 20-yard score in the third quarter, had five grabs for 96 yards.
“We battled through a lot of stuff today — a lot of different looks that we hadn’t really seen or expected them to do as much of,” Hackenberg said. “They came out and threw the kitchen sink at us, and we were able to react, make plays and do what we needed to do to get the job done.”
Certainly they relished the challenge.
“It’s definitely awesome,” Godwin said. “You realize you have to go out and make some plays that you’re capable of doing, and be able to do that. … When the ball’s in the air, it’s our mindset that it’s our ball. Whether it’s a 50-50 catch or not, it’s our ball, so we have to make whatever adjustment needs to be made to make the catch.”
Hackenberg missed his first four throws of the day, but hit a 38-yarder to Hamilton and a 40-yarder to Godwin late in the first quarter, setting up Saquon Barkley’s six-yard touchdown run.
“Usually when you play someone like that and you burn them a couple times deep, they stop,” Lions coach James Franklin said. “They didn’t.”
In the second quarter Hackenberg found Saeed Blacknall for a pickup of 38, Blacknall’s only reception in the game. And on the next play the PSU QB lofted the ball in the direction of Godwin.
There was some hand-fighting, then the grab by Nixon. But Godwin caught the ball with his right hand as a flag flew. Interference on Nixon, declined (obviously). Touchdown, Penn State.
“I was running a go route on that play and Christian was rolling the other way,” Godwin said. “We realized we had one-on-one coverage back side, so he gave me a great ball. It was up to me to make the adjustment and come down with the catch. … I think he had my other arm, so I had to do whatever I could to make the play.”
Godwin also caught a 31-yarder on the seven-play, 79-yard drive that culminated in Hackenberg’s 20-yard pitch to Hamilton for the score. That gave the Lions a 24-20 lead late in the third quarter.
Maryland responded, as it did most of the day. This time the Terps assembled a 10-play, 88-yard march ending in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Perry Hills to DeAndre Lane, part of a day that saw Hills run for 124 yards and one score, and pass for 225 yards and another.
But again the Lions answered. Hackenberg hit Godwin for 27, and on second-and-10 from the Maryland 27 fired high for Lewis.
And he came down with it. Of course he did. The Lions’ receivers had been equal to the task all day, sizable as it was.