Maryland watches unlikely hero emerge in Michigan State win

Fans saw the usual faces lead Maryland to its first win in East Lansing in 73 years after defeating Michigan State, 31-9. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa finished just shy of 225 passing yards, Kaden Prather and Tai Felton led the team in receptions and yards while Beau Brade and Dante Trader Jr. finished 1-2 in tackles on the other side of the ball. But it was FB/LB Sean Greeley, listed as a game captain, who turned heads both at the beginning and end of the game to become an integral piece in the Terps’ road opener.

On the game’s opening possession, Sean Greeley checked out of the backfield on first down for an easy one-yard touchdown. The opening score not only eased concerns about a third consecutive slow start for Maryland, but also gave the fifth-year player his first first career catch and touchdown.

”They told me that was the play going into this week so I was prepared. It was just a time and place opportunity,” Greeley said following the win. “We were close to the goal line so [they] called my name. It was a good surprise for me.”

Greeley’s touchdown is also believed to be the first time a defensive player scored an offensive touchdown for the Terps since 1996. The last Maryland defensive player to score on offense was back on on Aug. 31, 1996 when linebacker Kendall Ogle scored on a one-yard rush against Northern Illinois in the season opener. 

The big plays didn’t end there as it was Greeley who forced a fumble on a Spartan kickoff in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, leading to the fourth total touchdown from Tagovailoa on the day thanks to a 31-yard catch and run to Octavian Smith. The forced fumble elevated Greeley into elite status in the record books after becoming the first Terp since RaVon Davis to score a touchdown on either side of the ball and force a fumble in the same game.

Greeley also became just the third player in the FBS since 2012 to force a fumble and catch an offensive touchdown in a game, joining former Oregon State linebacker Jack Colletto and USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

”Like Heeb was saying, we put an emphasis on getting hands on the ball and taking a lot of shots on the ball. On that one, I kind of put my head down and got lucky and knocked the ball out,” Greeley added.

Greeley added three tackles to his historic day as head coach Mike Locksley touched on the former walk-on postgame.

“We always try to use the personnel we have in our program and we got a bunch of tight ends, but we lost some fullback bodies,” head coach Mike Locksley said following the win. “Sean’s one of those athletic guys. He plays as a reserve on defense. He’s been a special team guy for us. And because of his athleticism, we’ve used him and Colby McDonald the last few games when we’ve gotten in the goal line. You probably didn’t see it initially because we hadn’t thrown in the ball, but he’s been back there playing in our goal line package all year long. We saw a look on tape that allowed us to call him into the flat area. Lia made a nice easy throw and, you know, Sean’s one of those athletic guys and it’s great to see him make some plays.”

Sean Greeley, a fifth-year senior, has appeared in 38 games heading into 2023 before stepping into the goal-line packages through the first month of the 2023 season. The Havre De Grace native appeared in all but one game in 2019, finishing with three tackles, before playing primarily special teams in 2020. Greeley played in all but two games as a junior and senior as he totaled 18 tackles, including 15 solo.

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