Hoskins a top end zone threat
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato has featured plenty of targets throughout the 2012 season.
However, once the Herd gets into scoring territory, it officially enters the "Gator" zone.
That's because of Herd tight end Gator Hoskins, who has had six of his 14 receptions on the season produce touchdowns.
During Saturday's 51-41 loss to Purdue, Hoskins finished with four catches, but three of them went for touchdowns. The touchdown catches came in a variety of ways on Saturday.
His most notable catch came on the Herd's first drive of the second half when both he and Cato made spectacular plays to get the offense back on track after a shaky second quarter.
Facing a third-and-9, Purdue brought a blitz that Cato was able to avoid by rolling to his right. With the blitz, Cato recognized that he had man coverage and simply threw the ball up to Hoskins.
Hoskins came back inside of the defending safety and caught the ball at its highest point for the 28-yard touchdown.
"He made a couple of plays down in there -- had a nice catch in the end zone and got a couple of them," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "He's playing pretty well."
The play was similar to a catch he made against Ohio in which Cato threw the ball between two defenders and Hoskins went up and got it for a 14-yard score that gave Marshall a 21-17 lead at the time.
While Hoskins can pull off the spectacular catch, he is becoming most noted as a top target down close to the goal line.
Of his six touchdown catches this year, three of them have been one-yard receptions in which he's sat down in behind the defense on the Herd's goal-line set.
It was the case once again on Saturday as he caught a 1-yard pass to cut the lead to 45-35 with 12:53 left in the game after Marshall had trailed by 28 at halftime.
Hoskins' 12-yard catch from Cato on Marshall's first drive of the third quarter got the offense rolling once more after a second quarter in which the Herd turned the ball over on three straight possessions, leading to 21 straight Purdue points.
That was more of Hoskins' focus following the contest -- not his three-touchdown performance.
"The second quarter kind of killed us turning the ball over. We've got to protect the ball," Hoskins said. "Our defense came out in the second half and gave us a chance to win, but we've just got to protect the ball."
Hoskins' first of the three touchdown catches came at the start of the second quarter and tied the contest at 14.
He beat a linebacker inside and caught a laser throw from Cato for the 12-yard score.
With Marshall possessing one of the nation's top deep threats in Aaron Dobson and the nation's leader in receptions in Tommy Shuler, the emergence of Hoskins is crucial for the Herd offense to keep rolling along and reaching the end zone.