ANNAPOLIS, MD—It was the exclamation point Marshall needed to end the 2013 season, a 31-20 win over Maryland in the Military Bowl.
“This is huge,” said an elated Doc Holliday following the win. “Our offense played tremendous. Our defense played lights out and our special teams played good. It’s just great to get that momentum headed into next season and send our seniors out the right way.”
Bowl MVP Rakeem Cato threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns as Tommy Shuler and Gator Hoskins combined for more than half of The Herd’s receptions. Shuler had nine catches for 68 yards and touchdown while Hoskins caught six passers for 104 yards and two scores.
Defensively, tackle James Rouse registered a pair of sacks and Maryland quarterback CJ Brown could never quite find his rhythm.
Marshall led throughout the ball game giving up the lead just once in the second half before storming back to take control for good.
Leading 17-13 at halftime, Marshall’s offense sputtered in the third quarter.
The Herd had two drives stall out inside Maryland territory and both times elected to punt on fourth-and-short situations. Both times punter Tyler Williams was able to pin the Terps in the shadow of their own goal post.
Trailing by four points, Maryland got the ball on its own one yard-line with 7:40 left in the third quarter and methodically moved down the field. Quarterback C.J. Brown orchestrated a 17-play drive that ate up 7:40 of the second half culminating with a two-yard touchdown pass to Dave Stinebaugh, giving the Terrapins a 20-17 early in the fourth quarter.
“These kids didn’t flinch. The one thing I like about this group is that it didn’t matter that they went down the field. The one thing we talked about all week was to go out and play great and they did. They were not concerned about the scoreboard, they were not concerned about anything else except playing extremely hard. Being able to respond back from that drive was huge,” noted Holliday.
Maryland’s advantage would be short lived.
On the ensuing drive, Marshall converted a pair of third downs, including a 23-yard pass play from Cato to Craig Wilkins to move down to the Maryland seven yard-line. Essary Taliaferro put The Herd back in front with a seven-yard touchdown run, giving The Herd a 24-20 advantage it would not relinquish.
The dagger came with 3:42 left to play when Cato found his tight end Gator Hoskins one more time in 2013 for an eight yard touchdown pass to stretch Marshall’s lead to 31-20.
Marshall’s defense took care of the rest.
Maryland’s last-ditch efforts to get back in to the ball game were stifled by a pumped defensive unit. A.J. Leggett picked off C.J. Brown and with less than two minutes to play, Brown threw three incomplete passes, turning the ball over on downs back to The Herd.
“I told them in pregame, ‘What are you going to talk about when you come back to bowls down the road and talk to our team?’ This senior class is going to be known as the class that got us back to winning championships,” said Holliday.
Marshall got on the scoreboard first with a one-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Shuler in the first quarter. Cato also found Gator Hoskins for an eight-yard scoring toss and Justin Haig tacked on a 27-yard field goal in the first half. Meanwhile, Levern Jacobs reeled in a 29-yard touchdown and Brad Craddock connected on a 33-yard field goal.
Marshall finishes the season 10-4, its first 10-win seasons since it won 11 games in 2002.