LANDOVER — The Maryland Terrapins football team honored their fallen teammate Jordan McNair Saturday by registering an emotional 34-29 victory over No. 23 Texas Longhorns in the season opener before 47,641 spectators at FedEx Field.
On the first play from scrimmage, Maryland sent 10 players on the field to pay tribute to McNair, their right guard who died in June due to heatstroke suffered during a May workout.
Texas respectfully declined the penalty, a decision Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada described as a “class move” in his postgame news conference.
“I just can’t say enough about our players, everything that they’ve been through, and the way they stuck together,” said Canada. “It was a great way to honor Jordan. We presented the game ball to Jordan’s locker. We’re going to put it in his locker and we’ll give it to his parents on Senior Day. But this was a win for Jordan and we’re certainly proud of our team, proud of our program.”
The Maryland football program has dedicated the 2018 season to McNair; the student-athletes wore a No. 79 sticker on their helmets and emerged from the tunnel with one of his former teammates carrying a red flag emblazoned with McNair’s number. A moment of silence was also observed before the game.
Jeshaun Jones, a talented freshman from Florida, had a breakout performance in his first college game. The wide receiver ran for a score, threw for one and caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kasim Hill to put Maryland ahead in the first quarter, 14-7.
Jones, who also scored Maryland’s first touchdown on a 28-yard run in the first quarter, tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Taivon Jacobs to put the Terps ahead, 24-7, in the second quarter.
Jones, who hails from Fort Myers, was honored as the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week.
“He is versatile,” said Canada. “He’s a very good football player. Obviously the jet sweeps are a part of our offense, a lot of guys ran it, his popped. And then they made some adjustments. We missed some opportunities on that. Obviously the pass was special, what he did after the catch was special. And then obviously the trick play down in the red zone, we had it, we kind of auditioned it. We had three or four guys throw it in practice, his was the best, and you’re only going to do it one time. He won. That’s how it went. He did a great job. It was really good for him, good for our football team.”
However, Texas rallied from a 24-7 deficit to take a 29-24 lead in the third quarter before Maryland’s defense rose to the occasion. The Terrapins forced three turnovers in the final 6:09 and scored the game’s final 10 points to shock the Longhorns in the season opener for the second year in a row.
Tayon Fleet-Davis, a freshman running back from Oxon Hill’s Potomac High School, scored his first career touchdown on a 17-yard jet sweep in the fourth quarter to put the Terps ahead, 31-29, before play was halted by a weather delay that lasted nearly an hour and a half.
Maryland defensive back Antoine Brooks, Jr. sealed the game with 1:04 remaining in the fourth quarter. The junior from Lanham’s DuVal High School had an interception that halted the Texas drive deep in Maryland territory. Brooks, who registered a team-high 11 tackles, was honored as the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week.