What did Terps overcome to reach Military Bowl?
ANNAPOLIS--It took Maryland three years of rebuilding to get to this point, back from the 2010 Military Bowl and working its way right back, returning again in 2013.
But in front of a nearly split crowd of 30,163, Maryland could not defend its home state from the invading Thundering Herd, falling to Marshall, 31-20 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.
Quarterback Rakeem Cato and the potent Thundering Herd offense put up 478 total yards, despite only possessing the ball for about 41 percent of the game.
Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown completed 13-of-20 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. His interception late in the fourth quarter would all but seal it in the final minutes.
Marshall 31, Maryland 20
FIRST TEAM TO TURN IT OVER LOSES
For 57:02, neither team turned the ball over. Then C.J. Brown felt the pressure of a ticking clock and an 11-point deficit, forcing it into coverage where it would be intercepted by A.J. Leggett. It was Brown’s only interception of the game, Maryland’s only turnover, and the only turnover between the two teams on Friday.
WHAT A DRIVE
It was the longest Maryland drive of the season, its most important of the season, and the longest in Military Bowl history. With 7:40 to play in the third quarter and a four-point deficit, Maryland drove 99 yards on 17 plays, ending in a two-yard touchdown from C.J. Brown to Dave Stinebaugh.
With the extra point, Maryland took a 20-17 lead with 14:56 to play in the game. Not only did it give the Terrapins’ defense a much-needed break, but it ground down the Marshall defense for the first time in the game.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PACE
Marshall wanted to move fast. Maryland wanted to move slow. The push and pull back and forth was the biggest factor in Friday’s game. In an attempt to keep the ball out of the hands of Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato and the potent Thundering Herd offense.
In the first half, Maryland ran the ball 26 times while only throwing it eight times.
There was no better contrast of the two styles than in the fourth quarter. After Maryland labored for a 7:44 touchdown drive to take the lead, 20-17, Marshall answered within 2:51 with a touchdown of their own to retake the lead, 24-20.
DOMINANT PUNTING. YES, PUNTING
Marshall punter Tyler Williams was able to pin Maryland at the one-yard line twice and inside the five yard-line three times. He would have had another, had it not been for the coverage man failing to get possession of the ball before falling into the end zone.
Williams ended up landing four punts inside the 10-yard line.
Maryland needed to contain Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato to be successful. For much of the first half, they did contain his ability to run, but he was efficient through the air. Cato was 17-of-26 passing for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
He was finding open spaces in Maryland’s zone defense and exploiting them.
He finished 28-of-44 passing for 337 yards and three touchdowns.
RUNNING GAME FRONT AND CENTER
Albert Reid and Brandon Ross made up the two-headed monster on the ground for Maryland in the first half. Reid was carted off in the second quarter with an apparent injury in his lower left leg, but Ross kept moving.
The Terrapins ran the ball 26 times in the first half, compared to just eight C.J. Brown passes. The two were complementary, though. With the success of the running game in the first half (4.3 YPC), it allowed Brown to look downfield.
There waiting for him was Levern Jacobs, who caught three balls for 69 yards through 30 minutes and finished with six catches for 94 yards.