This story has been updated.
Maryland players swore to dedicate their season to offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died June 13 after suffering heatstroke at a May 29 offseason workout.
They stayed true to that promise on the first play of the game, lining up with only 10 players to honor their fallen teammate. Texas declined the delay of game penalty.
— Maryland Football (@TerpsFootball) September 1, 2018
“That’s something those guys wanted to do,” interim head coach Matt Canada said. “They wanted to go out there and make sure Jordan was remembered … everything we’ve done to honor Jordan is from our players.”
It took almost six hours of real time, courtesy of an 86-minute rain delay, but the Maryland Terrapins defeated Texas in their opener for the second consecutive season, this time winning 34-29.
After speculation over who would start at quarterback, Kasim Hill lined up under center for the Terps’ first drive. It couldn’t have gone better, as the redshirt freshman led the offense on a six-play, 67-yard drive that resulted in a 28-yard touchdown run from freshman wide receiver Jeshaun Jones.
After a long punt return put the Longhorns in Maryland territory, on the very next play, sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger tossed a 39-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Devin Duvernay, who laid out to reel in the pass.
Maryland responded with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Jones to put the Terps ahead, 14-7.
The quarterback controversy wasn’t done, however. After three series, Canada replaced Hill with Tyrrell Pigrome. “Piggy” drove the Maryland offense to the Texas 40-yard line, but the drive stalled there and the Terps punted.
After a 39-yard field goal from freshman Joseph Petrino gave the Terps a 17-7 lead, a bad Texas punt set Maryland up at the Longhorns’ 20-yard line. One play later, Canada went into his bag of tricks to catch Texas on their heels.
Jones took a jet sweep handoff and faked like he was going to run, but instead threw a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Taivon Jacobs to increase the lead to 24-7. Jones became the first freshman to record a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown since Marcus Mariota in 2012.
“(Jeshaun) is versatile, he’s a very good football player,” Canada said. “We kind of auditioned (the wide receiver pass). I think we had three or four guys throw it in practice. His was the best, and you’re only going to do it one time so he won.”
Maryland’s momentum quickly shifted, as Texas completed a six-play, 69-yard drive in 95 seconds, capped off by a 5-yard run from Keaontay Ingram to close the gap to 24-14.
Maryland was then backed in their own end zone after a Texas punt was downed at the Terps 3-yard line. Jake Funk bobbled a third-down handoff and Maryland recovered the ball in their own end zone, resulting in a safety and narrowing the lead to 24-16.
Wade Lees’ free kick following the safety went out of bounds and was called for a penalty, placing the ball at midfield. Texas drove the length of the field in 70 seconds, with Ehlinger throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Collin Johnson on a go route. Transfer cornerback Marcus Lewis was beat on the play.
An unsuccessful 2-point conversion attempt kept Maryland’s lead at two going into halftime.
Hill got the start on Maryland’s first possession of the second half, but Texas kept rolling. On fourth-and-inches, Hill attempted a quarterback sneak but the offensive line got no push and Texas took over deep in Maryland territory.
A 33-yard pass to Johnson set up a 2-yard touchdown run from running back Kyle Porter and Texas took their first lead of the game at 29-24.
Maryland re-took the lead, with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended on a 17-yard rushing touchdown from running back Tayon Fleet-Davis; the score was his first career touchdown.
Back on top!
— Maryland On BTN (@MarylandOnBTN) September 1, 2018
Following a 86-minute rain delay, play resumed. Hill led the offense on an 11-play, 90-yard drive that got right up to the 1-yard line, but Noah Barnes couldn’t get one foot to stay in the end zone on a pass attempt. Petrino’s 18-yard field goal gave the Terps a five-point lead.
Texas got the ball back at the 33-yard line with 2:12 remaining and one final chance to take the lead.
The game then came down to fourth-and-6 from the Maryland 46-yard line. The pocket began to close on Ehlinger, but he rolled to his right and completed a 13-yard pass to Duvernay to keep the drive going.
A few plays later, an acrobatic, diving interception from nickel back Antoine Brooks, Jr. sealed the win for the Terps.
“There was a real focus on this football team to win this game,” Canada said. “The only people that knew how we were going to play were the guys in our building. And I think they had no doubt they were going to win.”
Maryland heads to Ohio next Saturday for their first road game against Bowling Green. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.