HUNTINGTON — The annual “Battle for the Bell” lived up to its moniker with Huntington grinding out a 24-12 win over Capital on Friday night at the Highlanders’ Bob Sang Field.
Huntington players seized the bell after they took a knee in victory formation to run out the clock on the Cougars in a battle of two teams ranked No. 9 in the WVSSAC Class AAA playoff ratings and tied for fourth place in the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
Brocton Blair carried the ball 21 times for 123 yards and a touchdown that came during the second quarter that gave Huntington (4-3, 4-2 MSAC) its first lead of the game and the Highlanders never looked back.
“What a heck of a win,” Huntington coach Billy Seals said. “Our kids played really, really well tonight. Probably for the first time all year we looked like Huntington High.”
Seals cited the disappointing 24-7 loss to Hurricane on Oct. 11 as motivation to challenge his team Monday. He liked the result, as his offense produced 344 yards to get the win.
The visiting Cougars marched 81 yards on their opening drive and ate up more than nine minutes of game clock to take a 6-0 lead. After that, Capital struggled to protect quarterback Evan Landers, who was sacked six times in the game.
Landers still challenged the Highlanders’ defense with 99 yards passing and found Kerion Martin in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard touchdown that cut a 14-6 Huntington lead to 14-12. Capital coach Jon Carpenter went for a 2-point conversion to tie the game but the runner was stopped shy of the end zone.
Huntington added a 23-yard field goal from Nathan Young on its next series to stretch the lead to 17-12 and then sealed the game on a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide-open Eli Archer for the final score.
Landers was sacked for the final time on Capital’s last possession, facing a fourth-and-12 that turned the ball over to Huntington on downs.
Capital (3-4, 3-3) lost its third straight game, but this time had Tay Calloway return from injury. He finished with 14 carries for 94 yards and the game’s first touchdown.
Carpenter had a bye week following his team’s 41-0 loss to Spring Valley on Oct. 4 and thought his team benefited from the well-timed week off.
“We got a good chance to get a little bit better,” Carpenter said.
Capital benefited from recovering a Huntington fumble in its end zone trailing 14-6 but couldn’t mount the drive that would swing the momentum of the game.
The two teams have now split the last four games in the series, with Capital still leading all-time 16-8 since 1996.
The Cougars will return home next Friday to host Woodrow Wilson. After capturing the C&O Bell, once exchanged between Huntington High’s Pony Express and Charleston High, the Highlanders will try to defeat Cabell Midland for the Shield at Bob Sang Field next Friday.