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Maryland football upsets Texas, 51-41, in wild season opener

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The Terps are 1-0, and it happened in crazy fashion.

Maryland v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Maryland football’s 2017 season began with an absolute roller coaster of a game Saturday at Texas. And when it was over, the Terps were 1-0, and had their first win over a ranked opponent in seven years.

After surrendering a pick-six on the game’s opening drive, the Terps scored 27 unanswered points to take control of the game. Texas charged back in the second half, trimming a 20-point deficit down to three, but Maryland held on for a 51-41 victory.

In just his second career start, sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome went 9-of-12 for 126 yards through the air and added 64 yards on the ground. But he went down with an apparent knee injury on the last play of the third quarter, and in came Kasim Hill. The true freshman shined in his college debut, leading the Terps to the win.

Ty Johnson picked up right where he left off last year, rushing for 132 yards on just 12 carries. The Terps totaled 263 rushing yards and added four touchdowns; Texas, who passed the ball 53 times, had just 98 yards on 31 runs. Maryland held Texas without a score on offense in the first half, although the Longhorns had their chances, and held strong when it was tested in the second half.

Maryland rebounded from what could generously be described as a disastrous start. Pigrome’s first pass, intented to wideout D.J. Moore, was high and deflected, and Texas’ Holton Hill returned an interception 31 yards for the game’s first touchdown. The Terps’ next drive was a three-and-out, and Pigrome looked overwhelmed early on.

But things turned around quickly. Jermaine Carter Jr. sacked Texas quarterback Shane Buechele at the 1-yard line on Maryland’s first defensive play. Two snaps later, JC Jackson snagged a deep ball for an interception. The Terps followed with a five-play, 51-yard drive, and Pigrome’s 25-yard score knotted the game at seven. After the Longhorns missed a 42-yard field goal on their ensuing drive, Ty Johnson’s 50-yard run set up a 20-yard touchdown connection from Pigrome to Moore, giving the Terps a 14-7 lead.

Texas threatened again early in the second quarter, but a third-down conversion deep in Maryland territory was called back for offensive pass interference. The Terps then blocked a 44-yard field goal, and Antoine Brooks took it 71 yards to the house, extending the lead to 21-7. Maryland scored again on its next offensive drive, as Pigrome found Taivon Jacobs downfield for a 46-yard score.

When Maryland recovered a muffed kickoff at Texas’ 12-yard line, the city of Austin was dead silent. But it came back to life when Adam Greene’s first field goal attempt of the year was blocked and returned 65 yards by Hill for his second touchdown of the day. Greene bounced back with a 26-yarder one drive later, bringing the lead back to 30-14. That score held at halftime.

Texas struck first in the third quarter, as Buechele found Armanti Foreman for a 33-yard score on third-and-20. Just two minutes later, Reggie Hemphill-Mapps returned Wade Lees’ punt 91 yards to make it a 30-27 ballgame.

Ty Johnson responded, returning the ensuing kickoff 62 yards into Texas territory and following with a 40-yard touchdown run. But Texas slashed it right back to three on its next drive, and Pigrome went down right at the end of the third quarter. The final period started with Greene missing a 50-yard field goal, and Texas looked to be in business.

Maryland had the answer again. The Terps stuffed Texas on fourth down at midfield, and Hill’s 40-yard strike to D.J. Moore turned a third-and-19 into a scoring chance. Hill capitalized two plays later, rushing for his first career touchdown from three yards out.

Texas couldn’t mount a comeback from there, as Longhorn penalties continued to negate positive plays. Jake Funk’s 12-yard score served as the dagger, making it a three-score game with 2:08 remaining. With their backs against the wall, Maryland outscored the Longhorns 14-7 in the final frame.

Three things to know

1. This was insane. The Terps and Longhorns combined for 11 touchdowns on Saturday. Nine were over 20 yards. Four were non-offensive scores, including a pair of touchdowns on blocked kicks. Texas had three of those, but it wasn’t enough.

2. Both Maryland quarterbacks stepped up. Pigrome responded well from throwing a pick-six on the opening drive, completing his next five passes and finishing the afternoon 9-of-12. When he went down, Hill entered a tight game on the road in the fourth quarter. He completed all three of his passes, including a 40-yarder to Moore, and showed his skills on the ground as well.

3. It’s a win over a ranked team. Since beating NC State in 2010, Maryland entered Saturday with 17 straight losses to ranked opponents. That streak is over. It’s a thrilling start to the 2017 season, and the Terps hope they have more coming.