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Dr. Saturday

Marshall beats Maryland 31-20 in the Military Bowl, but it could have been bigger

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Marshall's Doc Holliday sure played it conservatively in Friday's Military Bowl.

He really had no reason to. Maryland was having issues containing his team's offense and the 31-20 scoreline in favor of Marshall shows that. But man, it could have been a much bigger win. And at the risk of sounding cliche, the original Doc Holliday would likely have not approved of the strategy even if it ultimately was successful.

Despite piling up 475 yards of total offense on favorable field position because of its decision making, the Thundering Herd punted five times inside of Maryland territory. Four of those times there were six or fewer yards to go. Included in those four is an instance of fourth-and-less-than-a-yard at the Terrapin 44 yard-line with just over 10 minutes to go in the third quarter and Marshall leading by four, 17-13.

If there was ever a time to go for an eminently makeable first down, the opportunity to establish a two-possession lead in the second half is it.

On its next possession, in nearly the same situation with fourth-and-two at the Maryland 48, Marshall punted again. But following that punt, Maryland put together a 17-play, 99-yard drive to take a 20-17 lead. Instead of potentially being tied or up four, Marshall trailed for the first time all game and there was less than a quarter of football remaining.

But as had become customary, Marshall quickly moved the ball down the field and took the lead for good three minutes later when Essray Taliaferro tumbled into the end zone from seven yards out. Any doubt that Marshall wasn't going to win the game was vanquished. But it shouldn't have really existed in the first place.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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