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'Sloppy' win for Capital

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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Bob Wojcieszak
Capital's James Richmond looks for room to run during game action against South Charleston at South Charleston High School on Friday evening.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Friday night thriller that ended in a 34-31 overtime win for Capital at South Charleston had something for almost every high school football fan, but Cougars Coach Jon Carpenter said it lacked something bigger.

"I thought it was sloppy," Carpenter said after Capital (4-0) held SC (3-2) on a fourth-down attempt from the 8-yard line in overtime to seal the win.

Carpenter elaborated. After all, the game featured only one turnover and each team was well below its per-game average for penalty yards on the season.

"It's not the plays it's the athletes," Carpenter said. "It was sloppy, I think, as far as coaching goes. But they kept fighting."

 The game featured 12 instances in which a team attempted a fourth-down conversion. Each team was 2-for-6 on fourth-down, including a fake punt by Capital junior Kashuan Haley that resulted in a 17-yard gain. The drive finally stalled at the SC 26 midway through the third quarter.

The contest was more video-game like than in the liberal fourth-down strategies applied by Carpenter and SC Coach Donnie Mays.

Not only was the game sent to overtime on an unlikely 46-yard Hail Mary from Capital sophomore quarterback Tyrhee Pratt to his brother, senior receiver Cliffaun Pratt, that helped tie the game at 31-31 with no time on the clock, but scores came in atypical fashion throughout the night.

For instance:

* Haley's 68-yard punt return for a touchdown that put Capital up 14-7 in the first quarter.

* Marquel Hampton's SC-record 99-yard kickoff return that pulled the Black Eagles to within 24-19 less than 2 minutes into the fourth quarter.

* SC quarterback Kentre Grier hitting senior All-State wide receiver Kevin Forrest on a go route that resulted in an 86-yard TD that put SC up 25-24 with 6:40 left in regulation.

* Hampton's read of a Tyrhee Pratt pass made from inside the Capital QB's end zone and into the flat, where Hampton nabbed it out of the air and took three quick steps into the end zone for a 31-24 lead with less than 35 seconds left.

"As a senior, I thought it was my job to be a leader and do whatever it took to get the win," Cliff Pratt said of his late-game heroics. "We've got some big games coming up. We had to get this one."

Capital, which dropped one spot to No. 3 in the Daily Mail Class AAA poll this week, plays at No. 2 Huntington (5-0) on Friday. The Cougars play host to No. 6 Cabell Midland (4-1) on Oct. 11.

South Charleston remained in the poll, slipping one spot from No. 8 to No. 9. The Black Eagles play host to Parkersburg (2-2) on Friday night.

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