MIAMI, Fla. —
To complete its 2013 road schedule, the Marshall Thundering Herd put down the FIU Panthers, 48-10, Saturday night at FIU Stadium.
Marshall improved to 8-3 overall and 6-1 in Conference USA play with the win, while the Panthers dropped to 1-10 overall and 1-6 in the league.
FIU struck first with a 43-yard field goal by Austin Taylor, four minutes into the game, making the Panthers only the second Conference USA team to score first on Marshall in seven league games this season.
The Herd failed to score in the first quarter, with three possessions ending in three punts, but found the end zone on its first drive of the second quarter when Rakeem Cato connected with Gator Hoskins for a 25-yard score.
Marshall’s first attempt to extend its 7-3 lead failed as Justin Haig’s 38-yard kick was blocked, but following a Panther punt with 6:30 left in the half, the Herd started a drive that ended with Steward Butler taking off for 72 yards to the house, scoring his seventh touchdown of the season and the longest of his career. Haig missed the extra point to leave the score at 13-3 in Marshall’s favor.
After a Darryl Roberts interception that ended an FIU drive with two minutes left in the half, a Miami connection from Cato to junior wideout Tommy Shuler for 20 yards put the Herd up, 20-3, at the half.
Four minutes into the second half, Cato completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Hoskins, extending the Herd’s lead to 27-3. The duo repeated, eight minutes later, for a 32-yard score to put the Herd up, 34-3.
Hoskins’ third touchdown catch of game gave him 25 for his career, good for No. 4 all-time at Marshall, behind Randy Moss (53), Darius Watts (47) and Mike Barber (26). Hoskins’ team-leading 12 touchdown catches this season puts him in tie for No. 7 on single-season list with Aaron Dobson (2011), Darius Watts (2002) and Keith Baxter Sr. (1987). His 12 touchdown catches this season exceeds his 2012 FBS-leading total of 10 for a tight end. The 12 this season also lead all 2013 FBS tight ends. His 136 receiving yards on six receptions are the most receiving yards for a Marshall tight end since Cody Slate had 177 yards on 11 catches in a September 2007 Herd loss to Division I-AA New Hampshire. His 136 yards also gave him his first career 100-yard receiving game.
The Panthers found the endzone for the first time with 10:25 left on the board, when E.J. Hilliard connected with Ya’Keem Griner. The Herd answered two minutes later with a 45-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Blake Frohnapfel, bringing the score to 41-10.
Kevin Grooms gained six yards with 9:08 left in the fourth quarter, putting him at 55 yards and 503 for season, giving Marshall three 500-yard rushers (Essray Taliaferro, Butler, Grooms) for the first time since 1995 – coach Jim Donnan’s final season at MU (Chris Parker, 1,833; Erik Thomas 613; Olandis Gary 501).
The Herd put the nail in FIU’s coffin with 2:30 left on the clock as Frohnapfel threw for 40 yards to Justin Hunt, who scored his first career touchdown. Time expired with Marshall on top, 48-10.
Marshall outgained the Panthers, 554-265, with an average of 8.5 yards per play. Cato finished the game at 15-of-31 for 238 yards and four touchdowns and one interception. Hoskins’ career game ended with three touchdowns for 136 yards.
With the win, Marshall remains atop the C-USA East Division and next hosts a noon meeting with East Carolina, Friday, Nov. 29, at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network, with the winner advancing to the Conference USA Championship, Dec. 7.