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Terps pick up big win in Texas, but just how big was it?

A stout run game and an opportunistic defense give Terps biggest program win as a member of the Big Ten conference.

 

Everything is bigger in Texas, right? Well, on Saturday, the Maryland Terrapins put together a Texas-sized shocker in a 51-41 victory over the Texas Longhorns.

D.J. Durkin wasn’t supposed to have his team ready, while the Longhorns were supposed to magically be amazing under the first-year tutelage of wonder-coach Tom Herman.

Instead, the college football world was treated to one of the more bizarre contests ever. This game had just about everything you could think of — including three special teams touchdowns, Texas throwing for 375 yards, three total turnovers and Maryland rushing for over 200 yards.

Texas cornerback Holton Hill started off the scoring with a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first Maryland possession of the day. The Longhorns were back y’all.

Easy to see the Longhorns were back…

…except it apparently woke a sleeping giant in the Terps, because from that point forward the Maryland offense did everything in its power to win this game.

A 7-0 deficit became a 27-7 Terrapins lead with 7:47 to play in the second quarter.

Sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome showed why he beat out much-hyped freshman Kasim Hill for much of the day. He was dynamic in the run game and the play-action passing game worked well.

That was on display in Maryland’s first two touchdowns, a 25-yard scamper by Pigrome and a 20-yard completion to star wide receiver D.J. Moore. Maryland would go up two scores shortly thereafter on a 67-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown.

Pigrome would go on to complete 9 of 12 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 64 yards and a touchdown on the ground before going out with an apparent knee injury late in the game.

Kasim Hill finished the contest, completing all three of his passes for 44 yards and adding 14 yards and a touchdown on the ground in his own right.

What was once looking like a Texas route was now appearing to be the case the other way around. However, Texas’ Hill wasn’t going down without a fight as he would find a way to scoop up a blocked Maryland field goal attempt and turn a 27-7 deficit in to a manageable 27-14 scoreline.

After a field goal late in the second quarter made it 30-14 at the half in favor of Maryland it appeared this was going to be a blowout. However, Texas answered the bell after halftime.

The Longhorns scored on their first possession of the second half and then returned the field goal block for a touchdown favor right back to the Terps. Once again it was Holton Hill attempting to spark Texas, returning the blocked kick 91 yards and suddenly a 16-point lead became a three-point game at 30-27.

But, here is where the Terps’ victory foretells good things going forward — Maryland answered the two big punches with a few haymakers of its own.

Just under a minute after the blocked field goal for a touchdown, Ty Johnson scampered for 40 yards in to the Texas end zone and a 10-point lead was restored.

Texas answered back, but Maryland landed the knockout punch with back-to-back touchdowns to push a 37-34 game to 51-34.

Last season’s Terps likely weren’t in this game at all after the opening drive mishap. This team regrouped and gave it right back to the Longhorns.

While this is a nice building block for Durkin’s program, it was still Texas and that program has sputtered badly over the past few years. Will we look back at this as a win that defined the season or just a good road win over a bad team?

A lot of that will be decided on where these two teams go from here.

There are still plenty of warning signs for the Terps. The turnovers, special teams miscues and all the big plays given up by the defense don’t bode well. But, this team has the offense to keep pace and that is very different from a season ago.

Regardless of what happens from here on out, the Terrapins at least made a statement that they are a team no one can take lightly in 2017.

That’s progress and that is exactly what this season is supposed to be all about for Durkin and Co.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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