BALTIMORE, NOV. 7 -- Maryland pulled out the black jerseys today for the first time in 41 years. But underneath it was still the Terrapins, who have known nothing but failure in the last quarter century when the opponent wears the blue and white of Penn State. Maryland's black jerseys may go back in the closet, but the losing streak goes on.

Before 62,500 fans at Memorial Stadium, the 16th-ranked Nittany Lions stopped Maryland when they had to, capitalized on mistakes and hung on in the closing minutes to win, 21-16, for their 23rd straight win over Maryland.

"At times this year I have said some uncomplimentary things about the effort," Coach Joe Krivak said. "But I can say today without reservation that we played exceptionally hard. There were some unbelievable efforts.

"It doesn't make any difference, I know," said Krivak, who knows that Maryland's only win in this series came in 1961. "It's the same old story for the last 24, 25, 26 years. But I'm very, very proud of our kids. It doesn't make it any easier for us. We made a great effort and we came up short. That's all we can expect from our kids. When you get the kind of effort that we got today, I have nothing but admiration and love for these kids."

The uniform change -- Maryland wore red pants with the black jerseys -- helped generate some early enthusiasm, but it didn't last. The Terrapins (4-5) had two excellent drives in the first and second quarters that netted only two field goals.

The 6-0 lead didn't last long, and the Nittany Lions took it away with much less effort. Dwayne Downing stepped in front of Neil O'Donnell's pass, returning the interception 38 yards for a touchdown that gave Penn State a 7-6 halftime lead.

Penn State took the second-half kickoff, marched 81 yards and scored to take a 14-6 lead. Dan Plocki hit his third field goal for Maryland in the fourth quarter, but five minutes later, Penn State's Blair Thomas broke around end for a 58-yard touchdown that gave the Nittany Lions (7-2) a 21-9 lead with less than eight minutes left in the game.

Maryland looked finished, but the Terrapins showed some spine.

Dan Henning relieved O'Donnell near the start of the fourth quarter after O'Donnell hurt his shoulder. Henning hit James Milling on an 18-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 21-16 with five minutes left.

A muffed Penn State punt gave Maryland the ball on its 42 with 2:22 left, but on the first play, Henning was intercepted by Pete Giftopoulous to seal the victory for the Lions. Penn State is still in contention for a New Year's Day bowl game, though the Nittany Lions still must play Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Nine bowls had representatives here today, including the Florida Citrus and Fiesta.

"We're good," said Penn State quarterback Matt Knizner, who was 13 of 21 for 143 yards and one touchdown, but was not intercepted. "And we know we're good. And we want to play Pitt and Notre Dame."

The Terrapins go to Clemson and Vanderbilt to finish the season, one that might have been a lot more memorable with a victory today.

As the clock ran down through the last minute, the Maryland bench was awash in disappointment. The receivers displayed the various emotions the whole team probably felt.

James Milling, who had five catches for 107 yards, sat staring, probably wondering why he wasn't allowed to enjoy a victory over Penn State in the five seasons he's been at Maryland. Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof has been there as long and his frustration was vented on a sideline marker. Vernon Joines, who got the start at wide receiver in his hometown, sat with his ribs wrapped in ice, probably wishing he had another crack at a couple of passes that eluded him. Fullback Dennis Spinelli sat with his head in his hands.

"We played so tough," said Spinelli, who had eight carries for 14 yards and five receptions for 45 yards. "We were so close, and I felt like we deserved to win the football game. I was kind of sad."

Games aren't won or lost with fancy jerseys, as Penn State has certainly shown over the years. But Maryland needed something.

"About mid-season Lew {Perkins, Maryland's athletic director} threw the idea out and we mentioned it to the captains and they liked it," Krivak said. "It was a change, something to get a little extra excitement. I thought black and red would be ugly, but once I saw them I thought they looked pretty good."

The Terrapins looked good on their first drive, moving from their 33 to the Penn State 13. But they got only to the 9, so Plocki kicked a 27-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 9:38 left in the first quarter.

After a Penn State punt, Maryland started at its 14, and went on an 82-yard, 18-play drive that consumed more than seven minutes. But again, Maryland was short. The Terrapins had first and goal at the 4, but settled for Plocki's 21-yard field goal.

It was six points but it should have been 14, and as Krivak said, "That was the difference."

The Maryland defense was stopping Thomas and the Nittany Lions, so the Penn State defense got the points, in the form of Downing's interception return. That was all Penn State had for the first 30 minutes.

But Knizner connected with Michael Alexander for a 40-yard gain on the fourth play of the second half. On the sixth play, Knizer, just before getting hit by Maryland's Richie Petitbon, threw to tight end Paul Pomfret for a five-yard touchdown and a 14-6 lead.

Two possessions later, Maryland again got close, but this time didn't even get three points. On third and goal from the 3, O'Donnell tried to bootleg and was dropped for a six-yard loss. Plocki then missed from 25 yards.

After Plocki hit from 34 yards to make it 14-9, Thomas finally broke lose. After gaining 59 yards on 19 carries, he gained 58 more on one carry, going the distance untouched.

The Terrapins came back, though. Henning moved Maryland to the Penn State 6. But a couple of incompletions and a holding penalty pushed them back to the 18. On fourth down, Henning found Milling open for the touchdown that cut it to 21-16.

Penn State was forced to punt with 2:30 left, but punter Chris Clauss dropped the snap. He completed a six-yard pass but Maryland took over at its 42.

On first down, Henning dropped back, and kept dropping under a rush. The receiver he was looking for never materialized. He finally threw, right to Giftopoulous.

"Hey, it came right to me," Giftopoulous said.

In this series, they all seem to go in that direction.

Penn St. 0 7 7 7 21 Maryland 3 3 0 10 16

M -- FG Plocki 27

M -- FG Plocki 21

PS -- Downing 38 interception return (Tarasi kick)

PS -- Pomfret 5 pass from Knizner

M -- FG Plocki 34.

PS -- Thomas 58 run (Tarasi kick)

M -- Milling 18 pass from Henning (Plocki kick)

A -- 62,500 Penn St. Maryland First downs 15 19 Rushes-yards 42-201 36-87 Passing yards 149 325 Return yards 40 22 Passing 14-22-0 24-47-2 Punts-average 7-40 6-39 Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0 Penalties-yards 7-35 5-54 Tim

RUSHING -- Penn St.: Thomas 25-138, Alexander 1-15, Greene 5-13, Parowski 2-10. Maryland: Lowery 16-55, Spi

PASSING -- Penn St.: Knizner 13-21-0, 143 yards, Clauss 1-1-0, 6. Maryland: O'Donnell 15-29-1, 130, Henning

RECEIVING -- Penn St.: Pomfret 5-39, Alexander 3-64, Thomas 2-15. Maryland: Milling 5-107, Abdur-Ra'oof 5-8