LANDOVER, Md. – Maryland emerged from a trying offseason with an emotionally charged 34-29 upset of No. 23 Texas on Saturday, shaking off a lengthy weather delay to provide Matt Canada a satisfying victory in his debut at the Terrapins' interim coach.
After blowing a 24-7 lead, Maryland forced three turnovers in the final 6:09 and scored the game's final 10 points to stun the Longhorns in the opener for the second year in a row.
This one was even more impressive because of what the Terrapins endured this summer.
Maryland has dedicated its season to offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who collapsed on the practice field on May 29 and died two weeks later of heatstroke.
The Terrapins paid tribute to McNair by lining up with 10 players on their first offensive play of the game.
Maryland players wore a sticker No. 79 on their helmets and emerged from the tunnel with one of his former teammates carrying a red flag, also emblazoned with McNair's number. In addition, there was a moment of silence before the game.
The circumstances surrounding the medical treatment administered to McNair on the scene, as well as charges of bullying by the coaching staff, led to the university placing head coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave and the resignation of strength coach Rick Court.
Canada, the offensive coordinator, was named the interim coach. To his credit, he put in a strong offensive game plan and had his team ready to play.
“I just can't say enough about our players, everything they've been through and the way they stuck together,” Canada said. “It was a great way to honor Jordan. This was a win for Jordan. We're certainly proud of our team, proud of our program.”
Freshman Jeshaun Jones ran for a score, threw for one and caught a 65-yard TD pass. Quarterback Kasim Hill went 17 for 29 for 222 yards.
“Everything that has happened this summer has brought us closer together,” Hill said. “It was just fun to be back out there.”
The Longhorns figured this opener would be different than last year's, a 51-41 Maryland victory in the debut of Texas coach Tom Herman.
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, it was all too familiar.
“It was a really weird game,” Herman said. “Hats off to them. They did a really good job. A lot of people are going to say it feels a lot like last year. It doesn't to me.”
Texas took its first lead in the third quarter after Canada opted to keep his offense on the field for a fourth-and-1 from the Maryland 36. Hill was stuffed for no gain, and the Longhorns reached the end zone in four plays to make it 29-24.
After Hill directed a 79-yard drive that put the Terps back in front with 14:25 remaining, a potential thunderstorm caused a delay of 86 minutes.
Texas committed three turnovers following the stoppage.
“We have a lot to learn about how we have to go out after a rain delay and finish,” Herman said.
The game began with teams putting up 21 points in just over seven minutes. Jones opened with a 28-yard touchdown run, Longhorns junior Devin Duvernay caught a 39-yard pass in the end zone and Jones followed with a TD catch.