Maryland falls to Marshall 31-20 in Military Bowl

Maryland enjoyed all the perks that come with playing a bowl

game. There were free gifts, guided tours and bonding with

teammates to achieve a common goal.

And then it came time to actually play the Military Bowl.

The Terrapins couldn’t contain Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato

and the formidable Thundering Herd offense Friday in a 31-20 loss

that put a damper on an otherwise pleasurable experience.

Playing in their first bowl under third-year coach Randy Edsall,

Maryland used a 99-yard drive to take the lead in the fourth

quarter. Marshall (10-4) then scored one touchdown, then another,

to leave the Terrapins (7-6) lamenting about what might have

been.

”We had a great time at the Military Bowl,” said Terps

quarterback C.J. Brown, who went 14 for 24 for 197 yards and two

touchdowns. ”Proud of the effort, disappointed with the outcome.

It’s just one of those things.”

The Thundering Herd trailed 20-17 before Cato brought them back.

After directing a 63-yard march to put Marshall up 24-20 with 12:05

left, Cato clinched it with an 8-yard touchdown throw to Gator

Hoskins with 3:42 to play.

Cato completed 28 of 44 passes – with no interceptions – to help

Marshall reach double digits in wins for the first time since 2002.

The Thundering Herd came in averaging 43 points per game, but its

underappreciated defense played a huge role in this one.

Maryland scored only one touchdown after halftime, and A.J.

Leggett followed Cato’s final TD pass with an interception to set

off a celebration among the huge gathering of Marshall fans among

the crowd of 30,163.

Maryland closed out its association with the Atlantic Coast

Conference by falling to the runner-up in Conference USA. The

Terrapins will join the Big Ten next year.

Playing only 28 miles from its home stadium, Maryland – and its

fans – got to enjoy all the benefits of a bowl game without all the

travel.

”I was very impressed with the support that was out there in

red,” Edsall said. ”Disappointed we couldn’t have a better

outcome, but the support was unbelievable. Our kids had a really

good time here this week.”

Brandon Ross rushed for 116 yards for Maryland, which amassed

391 yards in offense but went 2 for 14 on third down.

”The biggest thing is we kept kicking ourselves in the foot,”

Brown said. ”Hurting ourselves with penalties, a couple drops and

a couple misreads. Little things like that were not helping us on

first and second downs, and creating unmanageable third

downs.”

Cato had a brilliant season before this game, throwing for 3,579

yards and 36 touchdowns. This performance – on a national stage

against an ACC foe – served as the perfect finish.

”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 99-yard march ended with a

2-yard pass from Brown to tight end Dave Stinebaugh, giving

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

Marshall was quick to respond. Cato completed two third-down

passes, and Essray Taliaferro ran in from the 7 to make it

24-20.

Brown subsequently came up short on a third-and-5 bootleg,

providing Cato the opportunity to put the game away. Although the

Terrapins got the stop they needed, Cato came up big during the

next series.

After completing a 28-yard pass to Hoskins on third-and-11, Cato

connected with Hoskins again in the end zone. It was Hoskins’

second touchdown of the game and 15th of the season, most in the

nation for tight ends.

Cato went 16 for 25 for 193 and two touchdowns in the first half

to help the Thundering Herd grab a 17-13 lead.

After pinning the Terrapins near their own goal line, Marshall

went up 7-0 with a 37-yard drive that ended with Cato’s 1-yard

touchdown pass to Tommy Shuler.

Maryland answered with a 29-yard touchdown throw from Brown to

Levern Jacobs, but the Thundering Herd promptly regained the lead

with a lengthy march that produced an 8-yard touchdown pass from

Cato to Hoskins.

The back-and-forth duel continued in the second quarter. After

Maryland kicked a field goal, Marshall got one of its own for a

17-10 lead.

Near the end of the half, Maryland moved 81 yards in 10 plays to

set up Brad Craddock for his second field goal.