CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Capital averaged nearly 8 yards per play and slowed Hedgesville’s big play offense as the Cougars cruised to a 48-14 win over the Eagles in Saturday’s Class AAA quarterfinal at University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field.
“All these other guys get the write-ups and all that but it starts with our offensive and defensive lines,” Capital coach Jon Carpenter said. “Those are the guys that move mountains for you and they’re aggressive. It’s as good as we’ve been there for a while and they kind of set the tone for the day.”
The win sends No. 3 Capital into a semifinal next week at No. 2 Spring Valley. The Timberwolves are responsible for the Cougars’ only loss this season, 21-13 back on Sept. 28.
In Saturday’s game, neither team scored on either of its first two series, before No. 11 Hedgesville (7-5) regained possession at its own 34-yard line with 5:49 left in the opening quarter.
On the first play, quarterback Hunter Coe was pressured well behind the line of scrimmage and despite getting rid of the ball, he was flagged for intentional grounding, which resulted in a 28-yard loss. One play later, Coe had a pass intercepted by Logan Spurlock, who returned it 3 yards for a Cougars’ touchdownl, giving them a 6-0 lead at the 5:13 mark of the first.
“Everybody was just on the ball and ready and he was at the right place at the right time,” Capital lineman Kalai Clark said. “All eleven were towards the ball.”
After a three-and-out by the Eagles, Capital took over at the Hedgesville 40 and covered that distance in five plays, with Kerry Martin scoring on a 1-yard run. Martin then threw a pass to Kerrion Martin for the two-point conversion, leaving Capital with a 14-0 lead at the 2:44 mark of the first.
With Hedgesville unable to get anything going offensively, Capital appeared poised to add to its lead when Martin connected with Deshawn Harper on a 21-yard pass to the Eagles’ 1. However, on the very next play, Deshaun James lost a fumble and the Eagles recovered at their own 6-yard line.
Two plays later, however, Coe passed to Devin Heath behind the line of scrimmage and Capital lineman Kalai Clark brought him down in the end zone for a safety to make it 16-0.
Quisean Gray’s 1-yard TD run 1:29 before halftime allowed the Cougars to hold a 23-0 lead at the break. For Hedgesville, the first two quarters were similar to what the Eagles experienced a week earlier as they fell behind 21-0 at Parkersburg South before rallying for a 35-29 win.
“They’re a good football team but it was a mirror image of the beginning of last week,” Hedgesville coach Joey Yurish said. “We shot ourselves in the foot early and we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity to make plays when we needed to. That kind of hurt us the most.
“Credit to Capital, they made the plays that they needed to when they needed to and we were unable to stop them. They held us to thirty-nine yards in the first half. We just didn’t do our job and they did theirs.”
Capital picked up where it left off to start the second half, marching 80 yards in 4:17 and scoring on Clarks’ 2-yard TD run for a 29-0 lead.
The Eagles used a 40-yard run by Keenan Smoot to set up their first points of the game — Coe’s 5-yard TD run at the 6:08 mark of the third, which trimmed the Hedgesville deficit to 29-7.
A 33-yard pass from Martin to Chance Knox set up Clark’s second rushing touchdown from 13 yards out that pushed the Cougars’ lead to 35-7 late in the third.
Martin added passing touchdowns of 7 yards to Shawn James and 34 yards to Kerrion Martin in the fourth quarter, before Hedgesville scored via a 74-yard pass from Coe to Owie Ash on the game’s final play.
“Kerry is one of the most athletic kids in the state,” Yurish said. “Chance Knox is a great receiver and they have three or four good running backs.
“What Capital doesn’t get enough credit for is their front line. Those five guys up front just completely took away everything we were trying to do defensively. When you have all those big guys up front at the high school level that compete and drive people down the field, it’s going to make anything hard on the defensive side of the ball.”
Kerry Martin finished 19-of-29 passing for 276 yards with a pair of touchdowns and added 10 rushes for 104 yards and an additional score on the ground.
Capital held a 526-225 advantage in total yardage and held the Eagles to 3.2 yards per play until the 74-yard touchdown pass to end the contest.
“We go hard on defense and go hard in practice,” Clark said. “We do this with pride.”