Maryland football led No. 23 Texas by as much as 17 points in the first half of the season opener at FedEx Field in Landover, but two late touchdowns and a safety allowed the Longhorns to narrow the score to 24-22 by halftime.
Before Texas receives the second-half kickoff, here are three takeaways from the first 30 minutes.
Jeshaun Jones dominated.
Jeshaun’s Jones’ first three touches in college football all went for touchdowns, and each score was a different kind — one rushing, one receiving and one passing.
The three-star receiver from Florida put the Terps on the board with a 28-yard run on the first drive, ran up the seam for a 65-yard touchdown pass later in the opening period and then threw a 20-yard touchdown to receiver Taivon Jacobs on a trick play midway through the second quarter.
Jones added some flair to his unbelievable first half by slowing up and looking over his shoulder at a Texas defender as he ran into the end zone on his touchdown catch, which drew a flag but was eventually determined not to be unsportsmanlike conduct. He also nearly blocked two punts — one of which drew a running into the kicker penalty.
Both quarterbacks played.
Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome both tore their ACLs last year, and interim head coach Matt Canada didn’t name a starter before Saturday. Hill started the game for the Terps and got the majority of snaps, but Canada also put Pigrome into the game for parts of two series.
Hill went 11-for-18 for 138 yards and one touchdown. Pigrome was used more as a rusher, going 2-for-3 for 19 yards in the air and gaining nine yards on two carries.
Twice, Hill badly underthrew his receiver, but the Texas defense failed to make him pay. One pass in the first quarter went directly to Longhorns defensive back Kris Boyd, who dropped the would-be interception. Later in the quarter, Hill threw well short of Jacobs on a deep ball, but when the wideout stopped to wait for the ball, he was clobbered for a pass interference penalty.
The defense softened late.
The Terps defense held Texas to just 60 yards on its first six drives, 39 of which came on one touchdown pass. Andy Buh’s unit swallowed the Longhorns run game and kept quarterback Sam Ehlinger in check.
But in the final two drives of the half, the Longhorns easily flew down the field with an up-tempo look. The Longhorns needed six plays and 95 seconds to go 69 yards for a touchdown to pull within 24-14 with 6:51 left before halftime. The shortest play of the drive was the five-yard touchdown run.
Then, after a fumbled handoff gave the Longhorns a safety with 1:27 to play in the first half, Ehlinger led a five-play, 50-yard drive that finished with a 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Collin Johnson. The Longhorns’ two-point conversion failed, allowing the Terps to hold a two-point lead at halftime.