More impressive was Cato's 6-yard run on third-and-1, which I'm still trying to grasp. FAU had a better-than-average pass rush, and the Owls were an arm's length away from a clock-busting sack that would have forced fourth down.
Following was another attempt at the deep ball to Smith, the 5-foot-7 speedster playing "X" receiver because ... just because. This bomb one was on target.
It looked a bit short on your TV, if you had channel 509 in Charleston, but that was by design. Smith isn't going to win an old-fashioned "jump ball" against any corner, as Aaron Dobson would have a year ago. Cato went to Smith's back shoulder and Smith put on the brakes, letting the corner overrun the play.
Pretty good throw, better catch by one of this team's big-play wonders.
With a 77-yard punt return early in the game, Smith showed why Holliday nabbed him during the Penn State implosion. Craig Wilkins, back at "Z" after a week's absence, had a filthy 28-yard reception to the FAU 1, setting up a third-quarter touchdown.
Remember Gator Hoskins? His 41-yard touchdown catch and run on fourth-and-5 was one part execution, 99 parts determination, and cut FAU's lead to 23-21. It was his finest moment.
So why am I blubbering over this win? Yes, the stakes were smaller than they were in the finest moments of Payton, Pennington and Leftwich, but this game wasn't insignificant.
When Herd players landed Saturday night in Huntington, they did so in first place in the East Division, thanks to an East Carolina loss. They're two wins away from an early lockup of bowl eligibility. Their 4-2 start is the first since 2009, second since 2002.
Most important, this stare-down with adversity showed that Marshall just might be contending material. And it showed that Cato, with a league MVP award already in his pocket, just might join the Payton-Pennington-Leftwich conversation.
If he does, it will be a hoot (sorry for the pun, FAU) to watch.
I do not come here today to second-guess the coaching.
I won't wonder why the Herd didn't play Devon Johnson at fullback on a fourth-and-inches run, which didn't go well. I won't split hairs over Holliday's decision to sit on the ball and run the clock down in the final seconds, giving Haig that 41-yard attempt. I won't wonder why Cato didn't get the red light on the deep ball.
But here, I shall conduct a one-issue coaching clinic, costing you nothing more than the effort to read this column. Easier than that: I will give the clinic in on sentence, repeated.
Don't "ice" the kicker. Ever.
This is the one of the three most cliché, ineffective maneuvers a head coach can use. You can argue it worked for Marshall in the second overtime at Virginia Tech, but I'm not buying it. That was just a lousy kick by a second-string kicker.
Icing the kicker is a waste of everybody's time, except that of the kicker. It gives him time for his heart rate to stabilize, to get a couple of practice swings and just relax. I'd make a joke about kickers being too flaky to recognize pressure, but I'll pass.
Try this sometime, golfers: Park your car at your favorite golf course, get your driver, ball and tee out of the car, run to the No. 1 tee and try to whack away immediately. On your next trip, repeat the process but take a two-minute break before your tee shot.
FAU coach Carl Pelini is the latest of billion to come up empty. One more time: Icing the kicker does not work.
It does not work. It does not work. It does not work.
Cato's career completion percentage fell to 64.82 percent, behind Leftwich's 65.12 percent.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.