NCAA Football

Special teams help Maryland upset No. 23 Texas

Photo Credit: John Gutierrez/USA TODAY Sports – Testudo Times

In a game that was marred by poor special team’s play on both sides, the Maryland Terrapins upset No. 23 Texas 51-41 in Austin, Texas on college football’s opening weekend.

True freshmen DJ Moore bailed out some bad play from the offensive line for Maryland when he pulled in a 40-yard catch on 3rd and 19 to get the Terps to Texas’ seven yard line. Texas blew up the next play but Naashon Hughes was flagged for the horse collar and it gave the Terrapins a first and goal at the three. Back-up quarterback Kasim Hill — Hill came in after the starter went down with an injury at the beginning of the third quarter — kept the ball and ran it into the end zone to give Maryland a 44-34 lead with over seven and a half minutes left in the game.

The Longhorns muffed the ensuing kickoff, but recovered it at their 21 yard line. The recovery didn’t matter as the Longhorns went three, fortunately they only managed to burn 26 seconds off of the clock.

Texas’ final possession was marked by a pick-six that was called back because of defensive offsides, and a first down on 4th and 14 that was called back on a false start. On 4th and 19, the Longhorns took a deep shot downfield but it was terribly overthrown and uncatchable, despite a lot of contact from the wideout and defensive back. Maryland got the ball back on the Longhorn’s 24 yard line with 3:40 seconds left in the game.

The Terps were unstoppable even when they were just trying to run out the clock as Jake Funk ran up the seem to score from 12 yards out and cement Maryland’s upset victory.

Quarterback Shane Buechele hit Collin Johnson for a garbage time touchdown to get within 10 points with just over a minute remaining in the game. Maryland would recover the ensuing onside kick.

Both teams opened the fourth quarter with drives that stalled out; Maryland’s kicker Adam Greene missed a 50 yard attempt on 4th and 12 after the Terps drive stalled. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they were unable to capitalize as the offensive line was unable to keep the Terps front seven out of the backfield. Texas’ running backs couldn’t find any running room and Buechele didn’t have time to make reads on the couple of times he dropped back to pass.

The third quarter was also the best offensive quarter for Longhorns as they scored 14 points, on their own. Buechele hit Armanti Foreman for a 33-yard touchdown pass that exposed a lack of athleticism in the Terps secondary as Foreman just juked his way into the open field; the wideout then outraced everyone else to the end zone, except for a safety who was too late to make a difference.

Once the second half resumed, it was clear that Tom Herman’s staff had made several adjustments to their defense as they stifled the Terrapins first two drives — the Terps went three and out on their first drive of the half. On Maryland’s second drive they actually picked up a pair first downs, but they were forced to punt after only four plays. Reggie Hemphill-Mapps would catch the Terps punt and return it 91-yards to the endzone to get Texas within three.

Texas would get the last laugh in the first half as they blocked a Terrapins field goal, scooped it up and took it back to the house for a 65-yard return. Maryland’s offensive line collapsed on the play giving the Longhorns an easy shot at blocking the field goal attempt; which would give the Terps a 27-14 lead.

Fortunately for the Terps, they’d fix their issues on their issues blocking on field goal attempts in time to score the final points of the first half. As Greene capped off an eight play, 67-yard drive, with a 26-yard field goal to give Maryland a 30-14 lead heading into halftime.

Maryland took a dominating 20-point lead midway through the second quarter when Pigrome found wideout Tavion Jacobs for a 46-yard touchdown over the top of the defense when Jacobs just blew by his defender. Jacobs’ touchdown catch followed a 19-yard run by Johnson on 3rd and 7 to give the Terps another set of downs. This play highlights the lack of athleticism and speed that the Longhorns have in their defensive backfield; while Jacobs has speed, his defender was in the wrong position from the start of the play and couldn’t overcome his poor positioning before Jacobs blew past him.

The Longhorns weren’t the only ones benefiting from special teams plays as Maryland’s second third of the game came off of a 71-yard blocked field goal return by Antoine Brooks. Maryland was able to get into the backfield because of poor play on Texas’ offensive line that left holes on that the Terps were able to exploit to block the field goal.

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