Cato steps up after tough loss
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato walked into the post-game press conference with tears in his eyes on Saturday evening.
How was this known?
Because he looked every one of the members of the media contingent in the eyes while answering questions about the late interception that finished off Marshall's 27-24 loss to Ohio on Saturday night.
"They put the ball in my hands and I failed to lead us to victory," Cato said. "That's something that's hard right now, and I can learn from that."
Cato was distraught -- visibly red-eyed and his voice hushed and quivering as he answered questions about the painful memory.
Just as he stood in the pocket and faced Ohio's pressure on each of his 65 pass attempts on Saturday, he stood in the face of adversity and faced it as well.
It's simply what leaders do.
He didn't want to talk about his Marshall-record 44 pass completions, which eclipsed Marshall great Byron Leftwich's mark in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.
Nor did he mention the 432 yards, which were a career high and the 14th most in Marshall football's single-game history.
It was one pass -- one error -- that dominated the conversation.
With under a minute remaining and the Herd trailing by three, Cato drove Marshall to the Ohio 27 and was looking for a game-winning touchdown.
On the interception, he was targeting C.J. Crawford, who had slipped into the soft part of the zone in the middle of the field. Ohio's Jelani Woseley jumped and snagged the ball at its highest point to secure the interception and the game for the Bobcats.
"I was trying to make sure the backside safety wasn't over there so he could pick the ball off," Cato said of the play. "When I threw it, I felt like I didn't put enough arm strength into it. (Woseley) made a spectacular play. Again, if I hit C.J. Crawford, he walks in the end zone."
There were no excuses, no what-ifs.
Cato owned it as what it was -- a tough teaching tool for a young quarterback who expects perfection.
"Tom Brady, Peyton (Manning) -- all the great quarterbacks around, it happens to everybody," Cato said. "It's a learning process, I'm still a young quarterback and I have to learn from it."
Cato mentioned the great quarterbacks because his mindset is to be one of them one day, and he will not accept anything less.
But beyond the personal goals, his main focus is on the team, the school and the community who calls on him to lead them to victory on Saturday afternoons this fall.
The tears were for those people because Cato takes family personally and those are his family members.
"It won't happen again," Cato said.
As he walked out of the interview room, he shook hands with those who spoke with him, then walked with his eyes forward in a focused manner while exiting the building.
And not once did he look back.