Friday, December 27, 2013
Instant Analysis: Marshall 31, Maryland 20
By Josh Moyer
Marshall ended its season on a high note by upending Maryland 31-20 in Friday's Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman. The victory clinched the Herd's first 10-win season in more than a decade.
Here's how it went down:
It was over when: Marshall completed a 28-yard pass on third-and-11 with about four minutes left in the game. The Herd were just out of field goal range before the play, with the ball at the Terps' 36, and that completion effectively put the game away. TE Gator Hoskins grabbed the catch near the first-down marker and rumbled for about another 14 yards. He caught a touchdown pass on the next play. That put Marshall up 31-20 with 3:42 left to play.
Game ball goes to: Marshall QB Rakeem Cato. If Marshall was going to win, it was going to be with the arm of Cato. Coach Doc Holliday chose to pass nine more times than his team rushed, and Cato finished 28-of-44 for 337 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. Cato came up big when needed, converting 4 of 6 third downs in the final quarter, including two third-and-long plays on touchdown drives.
Stat of the game: Maryland's average starting field position on its first 11 drives was its own 16. The Terps constantly had to drive a long field to get any points, as they didn't start a single drive past their own 28 until drive No. 12 -- when the game was already out of reach, and only after an excessive celebration by Marshall led to a 15-yard penalty. The Terps started within their own 5 on three occasions.
Unsung hero of the game: Marshall punter Tyler Williams. The Herd won the field-position battle in a big way, thanks in big part to Williams. Three of his first five five punts landed inside the 5 -- four of his seven were downed inside the 10 -- and another bounced at the 1 before a teammate carried it into the end zone. Holliday stayed conservative on fourth down, but it paid off.
What we learned: This win solidified the fact that Marshall is more than capable of playing with BCS-level opponents -- and that it will be a team to watch out for next season. Cato entered the bowl game as one of the better-kept secrets in the FBS, but with a national TV audience watching, that might not be the case anymore. He likely will surpass Chad Pennington's school record for career passing touchdowns (115) next season, and he's definitely a quarterback to keep an eye on.
To watch the trophy presentation of the Military Bowl, click here.