Devon Adkins (11) and Capital's defense held high-powered Cabell Midland in check last week.
They pulled it off in different ways, but all three Kanawha County teams chasing Class AAA playoff berths managed to earn victories Friday night.George Washington (6-0) survived because it more than matched Hurricane's dynamic offense, holding on for a wild 60-54 triumph.Capital (5-1) won largely with defense, limiting powerful Cabell Midland to less than half its average of rushing yards in a 35-26 victory.South Charleston (5-2), meanwhile, proved opportunistic in securing a 42-20 revenge verdict at Ripley, forcing six turnovers, including a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.
That trio came into the weekend as No. 2 (GW), No. 8 (Capital) and No. 14 (SC) in last week's computer rankings.
The Patriots will shave a couple ratings points off their deficit to top-ranked Huntington when the next lists are released by the SSAC on Tuesday, but remain second, while the others figure to rise a spot or two following losses by No. 3 Wheeling Park, No. 5 Oak Hill, No. 7 Midland, No. 10 Hedgesville and No. 13 Logan.
That sets up a potentially lucrative week for all three teams, as GW visits Midland (5-2), Capital hosts Woodrow Wilson (3-3) and SC plays at home against Winfield (3-3).
George Washington coach Steve Edwards Jr. didn't think Friday's shootout win against the Redskins (3-3) exposed any flaws in his team's defense that upcoming opponents will attack.
"Not really,'' he said, "I just thought they did a nice job. They got hot and they caught us a little off guard with some things. We got a little banged up during the game, and they did a nice job.
"I don't think they expected to run as much. I know we didn't expect them to run as much. They're a very talented team, make no mistake. The only thing we were concerned about is to make sure the kids fight through the adversity because you have ballgames like that.''
Hurricane racked up 560 total yards, 352 rushing and 208 passing. Versatile senior Zach Pate ran for 224 by himself.
Edwards thought it was simply the percentages evening out, since Friday's game marked the fifth meeting between the playoff-tested programs in just over two years, with GW winning the previous four by margins between 25 and 35 points.
"The more times you play somebody,'' Edwards said, "especially in a short period of time, the odds start evening up. Eventually they're going to get you.
"What we tried to get across to our kids is that we did some things that were good and we did some things that were not good. We emphasize the good points and take a look at the bad points and try to fix them. That's the thing. They caught us off-guard a few times, caught us in personnel situations. Those are things we all learn from and hopefully get better at, and hope it's not habit-forming.''
Edwards noted that GW has now survived a pair of tight, high-scoring games, also beating SC 34-27 in the opener.
"They had a real good opportunity to get us,'' Edwards said of the Redskins. "That's two times now our kids have been in games and suffered some adversity and fought through it. In recent history, we haven't always done that. But twice already this year, we've been able to persevere and answer the call, and that's encouraging to me.''
GW now directs its attention to Cabell Midland, a matchup fans have been waiting for since last year when the teams finished 1-2 in the Mountain State Athletic Conference (Knights first, Patriots second), but weren't scheduled to play.
"They're really solid,'' Edwards said. "They're a machine, and it concerns me. They run at a quick pace and they're very disciplined in everything they do. Their kids play really hard and that'll be something we'll have to try and emulate in practice - something to try and get across to all our kids.''
Midland was averaging 453 yards rushing before Friday's game at Laidley Field, but managed just 201 yards against Capital on 52 carries.
"They're good,'' Knights coach Luke Salmons said of the Cougars. "They have a good defense. It sucks to lose, but it was two good teams playing football.''
Capital also sidestepped some adversity to win, including an ankle injury that shelved senior linebacker Jonathan Pittman and the absence of senior running back James Richmond, the team's most experienced skill-position player, to what coach Jon Carpenter called a "sabbatical.''
The Cougars also saw offensive lineman Austin Ellis assisted off the field with less than a minute left while they were trying to run out the clock. With quarterback Tyrhee Pratt taking a knee out of victory formation, an over-exuberant Midland lineman plowed into Ellis.
"It was just a rogue player,'' Carpenter said. "It's not an indication of the way they play. They play hard. I know they don't condone that or teach that, and they apologized afterward.''
Capital beat Woodrow Wilson, this week's opponent, 35-14 at Laidley last year as Kashuan Haley scored two touchdowns on a 19-yard run and a 41-yard punt return. Haley blitzed Midland for 236 yards and three TDs on Friday, hitting the end zone from 70, 64 and 31 yards.
Finally, South Charleston was able to wipe out any lingering bad memories from last year's 7-6 loss to Ripley that effectively kept the Black Eagles out of the AAA playoff field.
They took advantage of six turnovers by the Vikings (three fumbles, three interceptions), including a pick-six by Kevin Forrest that covered 100 yards.
Forrest, a returning first-team all-state receiver, also caught scoring passes of 23 and 30 yards from Kentre Grier. Grier threw for 295 yards and four TDs.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This week's area games
All games at 7:30 p.m.
St. Albans (1-5) at Hurricane (3-3)
George Washington (6-0) at Cabell Midland (5-2)
Winfield (3-3) at South Charleston (5-2)
Woodrow Wilson (3-3) at Capital (5-1)
Riverside (1-6) at Princeton (3-4)
Spring Valley (5-2) at Nitro (1-5)
Clay County (2-4) at Sissonville (5-1)
Wayne (6-0) at Herbert Hoover (2-4)
Parkersburg Catholic (6-1) at Valley (6-0)
Greenbrier East (4-3) at Logan (4-2)
Huntington (6-0) at Parkersburg (2-4)
Tolsia (2-4) at Scott (3-4)
Mingo Central (4-2) at Chapmanville (4-3)
Ravenswood (4-2) at Point Pleasant (6-0)
Calhoun County (0-7) at Roane County (4-2)
Braxton County (1-6) at Fairmont Senior (4-2)
Nicholas County (5-2) at Lincoln County (0-6)
Parkersburg South (1-5) at Brooke (1-5)
Man (5-1) at Sherman (2-5)
Tug Valley (2-5) at Van (3-3)
Wahama (6-1) at South Gallia, Ohio (4-3)