It wasn’t a storybook ending for the Maryland Terrapins football team in their final swan song before departing for the Big Ten. Behind 337 passing yards from quarterback Rakeem Cato, Marshall defeated Maryland in the Military Bowl 31-20.
The loss have the Terps a final record of 7-6.
Maryland didn’t have a bad day by any stretch. The Terps racked up 391 total yards, including 191 on the ground. Running back Brandon Ross had his second best performance of the season as he totaled 116 yards on 20 carries.
The game started off great for the Maryland defense as Marshall only could muster 13 yards on their first two drives. On their third drive, Marshall started off with the football at the Maryland 37-yard line and ended up reaching the end zone. Cato dropped back out of the shotgun and found wideout Tommy Shuler on a quick slant for a one-yard touchdown to give Marshall a 7-0 lead.
On the very next drive for the Terrapins, they showed what they’ve shown all year: they can handle any kind of adversity. In a quick drive that lasted seven plays and went 75 yards, Maryland capped it off with signal caller C.J. Brown hitting wide receiver Levern Jacobs on a play-action pass on a crossing pattern for a 29-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The two teams traded field goals in the second quarter with Maryland’s Brad Craddock hitting a pair from 25 and 33 yards respectively.
With 1:20 to go in the first half, Marshall started out with the football at their own 22-yard line. The Thundering Herd started off with two completions to wide receiver Tommy Shuler in the first four plays and got them to the Maryland 44-yard line with plenty of time to score. Fortunately for the Terps, Cato and the Marshall offense stalled due to a strong pass rush. It also didn’t hurt that Cato threw two consecutive passes down the right sideline, both of which Maryland cornerback Issac Goins had his counterpart in tight pass coverage.
With 7:40 remaining in the third quarter, Maryland started off with the football at their own 1-yard line. The Terps ended up moving the ball effectively as they ran the ball quite a bit and Brown had smart throws. In the final minutes of the third quarter, Brown found wideout Nigel King for an 18-yard completion on a slant route to put Maryland at the 2-yard line.
On their 17-play drive, the Terps ran the ball 10 times with running back Brandon Ross totaling 32 yards on five carries, including a 20-yard third down conversion. The drive culminated in a short touchdown throw by Brown to tight end Dave Stinebaugh to give Maryland a 20-17 lead.
Marshall didn’t waste any time providing an answer as they commandeered a nine-play, 63-yard line that ended in a seven-yard touchdown run by Essray Taliaferro to give the Herd a 24-20.
Facing a 3rd-and-11 with 4:05 left, Cato hit Gator Hoskins over the middle and he rumbled for a 28-yard gain to put the Herd inside the 10. On the very next play, Cato lofted a pass in the back of the end zone that found Hoskins again to give Marshall a 31-20 lead. Hoskins had six catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Trailing by 11, the Terps needed to score in a hurry. Brown tossed a long pass for Amba Etta-Tawo into double coverage that was intercepted by A.J. Leggett. It was the first turnover for either team in the entire game.
While it may not have been the result Terps fans were looking for, a seven-win season is nothing to be ashamed of. After six wins during coach Randy Edsall’s first two seasons in College Park, eclipsing that total in one season is impressive. This will impact Maryland’s future on several levels going forward.