When Josh Hokit’s name was called he was certainly ready, and on a night when the spotlight was on Derek Carr and a new era of Fresno State football under head coach Jeff Tedford, the former Clovis High shined bright and showed off a surprising talent almost long forgotten.
Hokit, a sophomore walk-on who was moved to running back late last season, scored Fresno State’s first touchdown of the season and the first of his career, a 1-yard plunge in the first quarter. If that wasn’t enough, five minutes later he threw a perfectly executed 65-yard touchdown on a double pass, and later bulldozed his way to a third touchdown on a 4-yard run, lifting the Bulldogs to a 66-0 win over Incarnate Word in a star-studded night at Bulldog Stadium.
It was Josh Hokit Mania in the first half.
It was more than a big win for the Bulldogs coming off a nightmare 1-11 season – it was a breath of fresh air amid hot and humid temperatures on a night that seemed to never dip below 100 degrees and drew 39,447 fans.
Let’s be honest – a big draw was Carr’s jersey retirement at halftime. But, Hokit and his play on the field definitely stood out.
“It’s always cool scoring touchdowns,” said Hokit, after the game. “I wanted that one bad and I wanted to put points up for our team. My number was called and I was ready.”
Hokit is no stranger to scoring touchdowns as he starred at linebacker and running back in high school.
But, who could have imagined a touchdown pass?
Well first of all, Hokit was actually a quarterback until his sophomore year at Clovis High where he was needed more as a do-everything player. And it worked out, Hokit was named the Tri-River Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2015 as a punishing linebacker and running back.
The double-pass was inserted just a few days before the game and never practiced against a live defense. In fact, Coach Tedford was ready to call the play on the first play from scrimmage, but the placement of the ball wasn’t on the correct hash mark to make it work.
“It felt natural,” Hokit said. “It seemed like it stayed in the air forever – I even surprised myself.”
And to prove how versatile Hokit is – he’s also the team’s No. 2 long snapper.
The team was inspired by the presence of Derek Carr – who said in a pre-game press conference he didn’t know you could get your jersey retired so early in life – the Oakland Raiders star quarterback ate a pre-game meal with the team and addressed the ‘Dogs with a speech before taking the field.
Carr holds 27 school records, including career leader in passing yardage (12,842), touchdowns (113), completion percentage (66.6) and total offensive yards (13,032) and was the Oakland Raiders 2014 second round pick, rising to one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
The Central Valley will also hold a special place in Carr’s heart, specifically Fresno.
“This place is home. Fresno is home,” said Carr, with brother David by his side at the press conference. “This is where I gave my life to Christ, this is where I met my wife and where I had my first child and we won some games along the way.
“It was all part of one plan and that was to finish what David started. It’s definitely something I dreamed of.”
Clovis North 2013 graduate Kyle Riddering also scored the first touchdown of his Bulldog career with a 9-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Chason Virgil in the second quarter, helping the ‘Dogs to a 34-0 halftime lead.
Next up for the Bulldogs is a trip to face Alabama, the No. 1 team in the nation and winner of 16 national championships and four since 2009.
“I’ll be enjoying it tonight but we’ll need a good week of practice to get ready for Alabama,” Hokit said. “I’m ready to play the No. 1 team in the nation and I want to see where I compare to the best.”