By Tom Bone
For The Register-Herald
ANNAPOLIS, Md. —
Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato looked over to tight end Harold “Gator” Hoskins in the Military Bowl on Saturday and put the game situation in simple terms.
Hoskins said that before they broke the huddle on third-and-11 with Marshall ahead 24-20, Cato told him, “Man, you’ve got to win it right here. I’m coming to you.”
Hoskins went on to say, “We (saw) they were trying to put one of their safeties on me, No. 20 (Anthony Nixon). He was outside; I broke inside. Cato found me and I just made a good play.”
The senior from Gainesville, Fla., nabbed the ball and put his shoulders down, bulling ahead for a 28-yard gain and setting up the game’s final touchdown on the next play — also a Cato-to-Hoskins pass.
Doc Holliday, the Marshall head coach, said Hoskins has been exploiting mismatches against defenses all season.
“When he’s out there in space versus a safety or a linebacker, because of his athletic ability, his ball skills and his route running, they have a hard time matching up. It just continued today,” Holliday said.
“There’s a reason he’s had more touchdown catches than any tight end in America. It’s because he’s a touch matchup … (and) Cato did a great job of getting the ball to him.”
Cato was asked his perspective about playing in a nationally-televised bowl game.
“I just told the guys, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. And this is a big-time game,” Cato said. “I just wanted to come out here and lay everything out on the line, and lead my team to a victory.”
He certainly did that, with 337 passing yards and three touchdowns, plus 15 rushing yards.
Maryland defensive lineman Andre Monroe said, “(Cato) was very shifty. Quite a few times, we were able to get back there … but he was able to wiggle (away or) get it off at the last second.”
Hoskins said, “Shout-out to Cato, man. He came to me, and let me know what he’s seeing, what I need to do. … He threw some great balls to me tonight. He helped me go out the right way.”
Marshall won its 10th game of the year on Saturday, a feat last accomplished in 2002. Hoskins said, “It just feels good to win 10 games, to get Marshall back on the map, to let the young guys know, this is how it’s supposed to be, every year.”
“It just feels good to end it the right way, my last year, my last game,” the senior said. “It just feels great.”
— E-mail: tbone@