STATE COLLEGE – Penn State's defense extended its forced turnover streak to 15 games as the unit recorded an interception and a fumble recovery in its 31-14 road win against Maryland last week.

Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown returned a fourth-quarter interception 87 yards for a touchdown to close the door on any hopes Maryland harbored for a comeback. Brown also recovered a fumble in the third quarter to thwart a Maryland drive that took the Terrapins deep into Penn State territory.

Penn State’s defense this season has recorded 10 interceptions and has recovered five fumbles.

“The best thing about our secondary is the grit and the experience,” Brown said on Tuesday. “With (cornerback) Joey Porter and (cornerback) Tariq Castro-Field and (safety Jaquan) Brisker, these are veteran guys, experienced guys, and these guys are ultimate competitors. When you have a group like this that’s willing to compete at every level and at every second in the game, you’re going to have a very tough secondary to go against your opponent.”

Defensive duo

Penn State in the offseason added defensive end Arnold Ebiketie (Temple) and Derrick Tangelo (Duke) to shore up a defensive line following draft departures and departures to the NCAA's transfer portal.

Tangelo tallied four tackles, including a sack, against the Terrapins, while Ebiketie ended with two tackles, one of which was a sack.

Ebiketie paces all Penn State defenders with 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss. He has gone five-consecutive games with tallying a tackle for a loss. Ebiketie’s 6.5 sack rank sixth among all Big Ten defenders, while his 13.5 tackles for a loss are second only to Indiana’s Micah McFadden in the conference.

Tangelo’s four stops against the Terrapins set a season-high for the senior transfer. He carries 20 total tackles to go with a fumble recovery and a forced fumble into this weekend’s matchup against Michigan.

Airing it out

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford attempted 47 passes on Saturday, which is only topped by his 52-pass outing against Ohio State on Oct. 30. Clifford connected on 27 of his 47 attempts and ended with 363 yards passing and three touchdowns.

In two games, Clifford is 62-of-99 passing for 724 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

The Nittany Lions managed 98 yards rushing on 33 carries and outrushed Maryland by 45 yards.

“I do think we took a positive step again in the run game on Saturday, but we have to continue to do that,” Franklin said. “I think the important thing is you can win by throwing it 50 times a game, but I also want us to be in a position that if we need to run the ball 30 times, 40 times in a game, that we can do that and still win. That’s challenging for any offense to be able to do.”

On the season, Clifford has thrown for 2,371 yards and 16 touchdowns against six interceptions. 

Hansard suspended

Franklin on Tuesday said defensive tackle Fred Hansard will be suspended for the first half of this weekend’s game against Michigan after the defender shoved Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa on the sideline out of bounds.

Hansard, who was not playing at the time, was standing on the sideline during a play where Tagovailoa escaped pressure and ran to the sideline before running out of bounds. Hansard’s shove caused Tagovailoa to fall the turf, and he missed the next play after being shaken up.

Hansard on Monday used Twitter to issue an apology to Tagovailoa and Maryland, saying, in part, “I would like to extend my sincere apologies for the unfortunate incident that took place on the sideline on Saturday. It was truly an act of impulse, and not malice. I did not and would not intentionally try to hurt another player. I believe in the integrity and the rules of the game.”

Franklin on Tuesday acknowledged Hansard’s transgression, and said the act isn't indicative of who Hansard is or of what he's shown during his four-year playing career at Penn State.

“The optics of it don’t look great,” Franklin said. “But I do want to say this, Fred Hansard has been here for four years. He has been a model citizen a model student-athlete. He’s a super impressive young man who’s going to go on and do great things."

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