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Maryland football knocks off Texas, 34-29, in season opener

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The Terps upset the No. 23 Longhorns again.

Maryland football Kasim Hill vs. Texas Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

LANDOVER, Md. — With Maryland’s football’s program shrouded in controversy, the Terps rallied and pulled off another Week 1 upset Saturday, knocking off No. 23 Texas 34-29.

Maryland started hot, taking a 24-7 lead midway through the second quarter. But the Longhorns stormed back with 22 unanswered points to take the lead. Maryland responded with a go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter before the game halted for nearly 90 minutes as thunderstorms passed through the area. The Terps held on after the delay, forcing three turnovers on Texas’ last three possessions.

Redshirt freshman Kasim Hill earned the start at quarterback, although redshirt sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome also rotated in. Hill went 17-of-29 through the air for 222 yards and a touchdown, while Pigrome went 3-of-4 with 22 yards. The running game was inconsistent, as the Terps picked up 144 yards on just 3.2 yards per carry. But the biggest star on Maryland’s offense was true freshman wideout Jeshaun Jones, who had a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown on his first three offensive touches.

The stats were largely even, as Maryland outgained Texas 407-405. The Terps also held minor advantages in third-down conversions, penalties and time of possession. The three Longhorn turnovers were the difference late; Maryland didn’t have any giveaways in the game.

Maryland’s first drive was surgical, as the Terps navigated 67 yards in six plays. Jones opened the scoring with a 13-yard rush, his first career score. Texas evened the score a few minutes later, as a 33-yard punt return was immediately followed by a 39-yard touchdown pass from Sam Ehlinger to Devin Duvernay. Maryland fought right back, as Hill found Jones wide open for a 65-yard touchdown. Just over six minutes in, the Terps led 14-7.

Things calmed down after the initial frenzy, as that score held through the end of the first quarter. Maryland added a field goal 34 seconds into the second quarter, as true freshman Joseph Petrino drilled his first career attempt from 33 yards. The Terps’ next opportunity came after a 15-yard Texas punt allowed them to start a drive in the red zone. They capitalized, as Jones threw a 20-yard pass (!!!) to Taivon Jacobs for the score.

Jones’ first three college touches were a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown.

Texas went on a run late in the second quarter to get back in the game, though. The Longhorns went on a six-play, 69-yard drive in 1:39 to make it 24-14, and their following drive culminated in a punt downed at Maryland’s 3-yard line. The Terps recovered their own fumble in the end zone for a Texas safety, and an out-of-bounds punt gave the Longhorns the ball at midfield. They quickly tacked on another score, as Ehlinger found Collin Johnson on a 22-yard fade route. Texas’ two-point conversion attempt failed, so Maryland took a 24-22 lead into the break.

The Longhorns took their first lead of the game with 4:14 remaining in the third quarter. Maryland went for it on 4th and 1 from its own 36-yard line and got stuffed; two plays later, Ehlinger and Johnson connected for a 33-yarder. Kyle Porter’s two-yard rushing score on the ensuing play gave Texas a 29-24 advantage.

But Maryland fired right back. The Terps’ next drive leaked into the fourth quarter; on the 11th play, redshirt freshman Tayon Fleet-Davis took a jet sweep 17 yards to the house. Maryland elected to kick the extra point rather than go for two, so the lead was 31-29 with 14:25 on the game clock.

And then officials suspended the game because of thunderstorms in the area. Play was halted for an hour and 26 minutes.

When the teams returned to a soggy field, Texas punted on its first drive. Maryland then marched 90 yards down the field in 11 plays, but couldn’t find the end zone after getting down to the 2-yard line. Petrino’s 18-yard field goal made it 34-29. Grad transfer linebacker Tre Watson intercepted Ehlinger on the ensuing possession, and Texas fumbled the ball away on its next drive. The Terps were able to hang on from there.

After a 4-8 campaign in 2017 and a hectic, tragic offseason, Maryland is 1-0 after beating Texas again. The Terps will return to action next week at Bowling Green.

Three things to know

1. It was an emotional win. Maryland is still grieving the loss of McNair, and the questions surrounding head coach DJ Durkin and other university officials still linger. That all still matters more than this. But the Terps were able to rally together and knock off Texas again, and that’s something fans can be proud of.

2. Both “co-starters” saw time at quarterback. Hill had been the presumed starter for a while, and it was indeed the redshirt freshman who lined up under center at first. But Pigrome took a handful of snaps as well, finishing with four passes and three rushing attempts. There wasn’t really a rhythm to who went in when, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens here going forward.

3. Jeshaun Jones had a breakout game. His first college touch was a 28-yard rushing touchdown. His next was a 65-yard receiving touchdown. His next was a 20-yard passing touchdown. Jones’ only other contribution to the stat sheet was an eight-yard catch, but he was the Terps’ brightest star of the afternoon.