HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall University tight end Gator Hoskins blew past the Florida International defense Saturday in the Thundering Herd's 48-10 win. In the process he also blew past a few very notable names in the Herd career record books.
Hoskins caught three touchdowns against the Panthers, cementing himself as the most prolific scoring tight end in Marshall history. It was the first score of the night, though, that might have been most important.
Down 3-0 early in the second quarter, quarterback Rakeem Cato found Hoskins for a 25-yard score with 13:25 left in the half. That opened the floodgates for the Marshall offense, as the Herd racked up two more touchdowns and entered halftime with a 20-3 lead.
"I was a captain this week and, in the first quarter, we were a little down and the coaches told us to make a play," Hoskins said. "I made a play and it seems like it got us started and we got rolling."
Hoskins, a senior from Gainesville, Fla., finished the game with 137 yards on six catches. It was the highest receiving yard total for a Herd tight end since Cody Slate gained 177 yards in a loss to New Hampshire in 2007. While Hoskins couldn't catch Slate in that category, he eclipsed him in another. His three touchdowns gave him 25 for his career. Not only did that pass Slate's 24 for the most by a Herd tight end, it also passed Aaron Dobson and Troy Brown to put Hoskins fourth all-time in touchdown catches.
Marshall Coach Doc Holliday mentioned the synergy Hoskins has with Cato, and Cato agreed, saying that trio of scores came from constant communication.
"It was just him coming to me and I was coming to him," Cato said. "He'd tell me what's there and what's not there and he just made big catches, big plays all night."
Hoskins' prettiest catch wasn't a touchdown. It was a one-handed 40-yard strike over the middle of the field where Hoskins was dragged down from behind at the FIU 15. He scored on the next play, but wasn't safe from some good-natured ribbing from his teammates.
"That just shows how competitive we are," Hoskins said. "Practicing every day, guys just want you to be better and know what you're able to do."
THE HERD'S struggles defending the run came to an end Saturday. After allowing an average of 212.4 rushing yards per game in its last five, Marshall gave up just 97 rushing yards to FIU.