Marshall, Cato upend Maryland in Military Bowl

Marshall accomplished everything it set out to do in the

Military Bowl.

With an uplifting 31-20 victory over Maryland on Friday, the

Thundering Herd provided their seniors with a lasting memory and

laid the groundwork for success in 2014.

Marshall (10-4) doubled its win total of a year ago and reached

double digits in victories for the first time since 2002.

”It’s a great way to send the seniors out and it’s a great way

to carry the momentum over to the offseason and into next year,”

coach Doc Holliday said.

The Thundering Herd will miss senior Gator Hoskins, who closed

out his college career with six catches for 104 yards and two

touchdowns. Hoskins scored 15 TDs this season, most in the NCAA

among tight ends.

But quarterback Rakeem Cato and wide receiver Tommy Shuler, both

juniors, will be back. That does not bode well for the rest of

Conference USA.

Cato went 28 for 44 for 337 yards and three touchdowns against

Maryland, and Shuler caught nine passes for 68 yards and a score.

For the season, Cato threw 39 touchdown passes and Shuler caught

106 passes for 1,165 yards.

Cato was at his best when it mattered most. After C.J. Brown led

Maryland (7-6) on a 99-yard drive to put the Thundering Herd in a

20-17 hole early in the third quarter, Cato calmly directed a

63-yard march that put Marshall ahead for good.

”I told the guys that when we get back on the field following

their drive, we have to capitalize,” he said. ”I saw that they

were able to keep us off the field from time to time, but in the

end we just need to have the mindset to get on the field and

score.”

Cato added a touchdown pass to Hoskins with 3:42 left to clinch

it, setting off a wild celebration on the Marshall sideline and

among the spirited, green-clad fans in the crowd of 30,163.

Making its first bowl appearance under third-year coach Randy

Edsall, Maryland closed out its association with the ACC with a

disappointing defeat.

Despite the loss, Maryland had its first winning season since

2010 and finished with more victories than in Edsall’s first two

years combined.

”I think this season really helped us as we leave the ACC and

enter the Big Ten,” Edsall said.

Brandon Ross rushed for 116 yards for Maryland, and Brown went

14 for 24 for 197 yards. Although the Terrapins amassed 391 yards,

they converted only two of 14 third-down tries.

Marshall totaled 475 yards and converted six third-down attempts

– four in the fourth quarter.

”We just weren’t able to get off the field on third down,

defensively,” Edsall said. ”Offensively, we had some

opportunities to make some plays. We just didn’t make enough of

them.”

Given that Marshall came in averaging 43 points and more than

500 yards per game, the Terrapins knew they would have to score

plenty of points. They kept it close for a while, but Cato proved

too difficult to contain.

”When we did get some pressure, we didn’t keep him in the

pocket,” Edsall said.

Cato was clearly the difference. He couldn’t generate enough

points against Rice in the Conference USA title game, but on a

national stage against an ACC foe, he was brilliant.

”I tell the guys all the time, `Big-time players make big-time

plays in a big-time game, and this was a big-time game,”’ Cato

said.

After a whirlwind first half that produced 30 points and 24

first downs, the teams settled into a defensive struggle in the

third quarter. Each of the first four possessions ended in punts,

but on the last one Marshall pinned the Terrapins on their own

1.

In the same situation earlier in the game, Maryland ran three

times for 2 yards and punted. This time, the Terrapins put together

a 17-play drive that included a pair of fourth down conversions and

lasted for 7 minutes, 44 seconds.

The drive ended with a 2-yard pass from Brown to tight end Dave

Stinebaugh, giving Maryland a 20-17 lead with 14:56 left.

Less than three minutes later, Marshall regained the lead.

”To be able to answer back like that,” Holliday said, ”was

huge.”