Cato leads Marshall past Maryland in Military Bowl

Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato (12) runs with the ball in front of Maryland Terrapins defensive back Sean Davis (21) in the second half of Friday's Military Bowl at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. The Thundering Herd won 31-20.
Geoff Burke | USA Today Sports
Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato (12) runs with the ball in front of Maryland Terrapins defensive back Sean Davis (21) in the second half of Friday's Military Bowl at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. The Thundering Herd won 31-20.
Posted Dec. 27, 2013, at 7:33 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 27, 2013, at 10:47 p.m.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Quarterback Rakeem Cato threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns, and Marshall rallied for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 31-20 victory over Maryland in the Military Bowl before 30,163 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday.

Cato completed 28-of-44 passes and did not throw an interception. He finished the season with 39 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

Marshall ended the season with a 10-4 record, having won six of its final seven games. Maryland finished at 7-6, and this was its final game as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terrapins move to the Big Ten next year.

The Terrapins had taken the lead for the first time when quarterback C.J. Brown threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dave Stinebaugh on the first play of the final period. That gave Maryland a 20-17 lead with 14:56 left and capped a 17-play, 99-yard drive.

But Marshall answered quickly, scoring on its next drive when Essray Taliaferro ran for the 7-yard touchdown with 12:05 left for a 24-20 lead.

Cato led the Thundering Herd on another scoring drive later in the quarter, which he capped off by throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Gator Hoskins (six catches, 104 yards) with 3:42 left to put Marshall up, 31-20.

The Herd also got help from punter Tyler Williams. Four of his punts pinned Maryland inside its own 10-yard line. The Terrapins twice started drives on their 1-yard line and also began on the 5- and 8-yard lines.

Cato moved Marshall up and down the field in the first half, throwing two touchdown passes as the Thundering Herd held a 17-13 lead at the break.

Both of those touchdowns came in the first quarter. Cato threw a 1-yard scoring pass to Tommy Shuler (nine catches, 68 yards) followed by an 8-yard touchdown pass to Hoskins on the following possession.

The Hoskins touchdown gave Marshall a 14-7 lead with 34 seconds left in the first quarter. Brad Craddock cut the lead to 14-10 with his 25-yard field goal for Maryland before Marshall’s Justin Haig answered with his 27-yard kick.

Craddock added his second field goal of the game with 1:20 left in the half, a 33-yard kick that cut the lead to 17-13 at halftime.

Texas Bowl

Syracuse 21, Minnesota 17: Shortly after a 70-yard punt return by Brisly Estime, Terrel Hunt scrambled up the middle for a 12-yard touchdown with 1:14 remaining as the Orange stunned the Golden Gophers in the Texas Bowl.

Hunt (19-of-29, 188 yards) ran for two touchdowns among his 74 rushing yards, tied for the team lead with Jerome Smith, who also ran for a score. The decisive carry by Hunt came on third-and-8 after Estime’s punt return set up Syracuse (7-6) at the Minnesota 14 with under two minutes left.

Mitch Leidner was 11-of-22 for 206 yards for the Gophers (8-5), who were playing in the Texas Bowl for the second straight season following last year’s devastating loss to Texas Tech. The Gophers, who have lost five straight bowl games since their last postseason win in 2004, were led through the air by Drew Wolitarsky (94 yards and a touchdown), although the freshman receiver had a heave into the end zone go right through his hands in the final seconds.

Syracuse led 14-3 entering the fourth quarter on the heels of two rushing touchdowns — a 1-yard plunge by Smith in the first quarter and a 5-yard scamper by Hunt late in the third quarter — before Minnesota rallied to take the lead. Leidner found Maxx Williams from 20 yards out on the first play of the final period to make it 14-9 and, while the Gophers failed on the two-point conversion, they made up for it less than three minutes later by scoring a touchdown on a 55-yard pass from Leidner to Wolitarsky and cashing in on the conversion pass to take a 17-14 advantage.

After the Orange retook the lead on Hunt’s second score, Syracuse sacked Leidner twice on Minnesota’s final drive. David Cobb rushed for 91 yards to pace the Gophers but fell just shy of becoming the first running back to reach 100 yards against the Orange defense this season.

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