Ben Fields: Cato targets all, even 'Blockhead'
Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato isn't picky about who gets the ball when he's back to pass.
Just get open, and he'll find you.
When Cato rolled out of the I-formation and hit fullback Devon Johnson with a 9-yard touchdown pass that put the Herd up, 31-7, against Memphis in the third quarter Saturday, Johnson became the 14th Herd player to catch a touchdown from Cato this season.
"That was a big surprise," Cato said of the pass to Johnson. "I didn't know what we were going to call, and Blockhead went out and made a play."
"Blockhead," Cato explained, is Johnson's nickname bestowed upon him by head coach Doc Holliday.
The number of players with a scoring catch bumped up to 15 when Cato found Davonte Allen on a 28-yard strike on a fourth-and-six play in the fourth quarter that stymied a Memphis rally, sealing a 38-28 win.
"We've been doing this all year," said Cato, who finished 34-for-44 for 341 yards and four touchdowns. "We get eight, nine wideouts in a game, we've got guys who do a good job of stepping up."
Demetrius Evans caught his second touchdown pass of the season and said Cato expects all of the receivers to play the same way they practice, no matter where they are on the depth chart.
"It just goes to show that he trusts us," Evans said. "When you come in the game and he sees you, there's no doubt there."
DOBSON DOWN: Part of the reason Cato was finding different targets was because senior wide receiver Aaron Dobson went down on the first play of the game, a 5-yard reception.
Dobson appeared to land awkwardly after being tackled, and walked with assistance to the Marshall sideline.
He put a brace on his right knee and was walking around on the sideline, but did not return to the game.
Holliday said he won't know Dobson's status until Sunday.
SPECIAL TEAMS ROLLER COASTER: Special teams were once again an adventure for both teams Saturday.
It started when MU's Jeremiah Taylor blocked a field goal in the second quarter.
After a Marshall touchdown, Herd kicker Justin Haig tried to squib a line-drive kickoff down the field that ended up hitting a Memphis player in the chest at about the 50-yard line. The Herd recovered the ricochet.
"I wish I could say that was by design," Holliday said. "It was designed to squib it, but not to hit the kid and come back to us."
Memphis took advantage of a Marshall personal foul penalty that placed a kickoff at the 50 late in the third quarter, executing an onside kick when it looked like Marshall had its normal return setup.
Holliday said the team was looking for the onside kick, but Memphis made a better play on the ball.
Memphis also turned a trick punt for a 61-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
FOR THE RECORD: Cato went past 3,000 passing yards for the season, marking the 14th time in Marshall history a Herd quarterback has done so.
Cato also moved to third in school history for completions in a season (318), sitting behind Byron Leftwich and Tony Peterson.
Gator Hoskins caught his ninth touchdown pass of the season, tying him for the most by a tight end in a season.
Ben Fields is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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