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Huntington quarterback Gavin Lochow looks to pass against George Washington in their Sept. 17 game. Lochow threw for two touchdowns and ran for a pair of scores in that game.

When Huntington and George Washington square off in the Class AAA quarterfinals Friday night at Bob Sang Stadium, it’s really their second meeting of the season. But you can make the argument that they’ve already played two different games.

Their Sept. 17 regular-season game in Charleston was marked by a wild swing in momentum in the second half that almost made it seem like separate contests, giving each team something to digest as they prepare for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Huntington. The winner advances to next week’s state semifinals against either Cabell Midland or University.

Huntington won the first meeting 30-14 behind two touchdown passes and scoring runs from quarterback Gavin Lochow, but that tells just part of the story.

The Highlanders were dominating, up 30-0 at the start of the fourth quarter and ready to initiate a running clock, which comes when a team takes a lead of at least 35 points. They’d just driven about 50 yards and picked up a first down at the GW 28. But inexplicably, they threw an interception to GW’s Hunter Giacomo, and that changed everything.

Noah Vellaithambi, GW’s backup quarterback, entered the game and threw a touchdown pass to Tyshawn Dues to make it 30-7. The Patriots then recovered an onside kick and Vellaithambi found Taran Fitzpatrick with another scoring toss and it was 30-14. Then, GW fell on yet another onside kick with just under four minutes left. The Patriots, needing a score to make it a one-possession game, drove to the Huntington 11 for a first down before that drive finally fizzled.

GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. felt his players learned something from that late rally.

“I’m hoping our kids just understand that we’ve got to play harder and longer, that’s all, to give ourselves a chance to be successful,” Edwards said. “I think we did that throughout the year. We grew from that game, and we’ll see how much we can do Friday.”

Each team obviously put together a game plan it felt was its best course of action against the other earlier this season. Now, the question looms: How much will either side change its strategy for this contest?

“I think both programs will have a couple more tweaks,” said Huntington coach Billy Seals. “Maybe some things they felt like they could have done the first game, or things they didn’t do as successfully as they needed to be done. I think both programs are much improved since Week 4. We’ll both take a little bit from our first game plan, and both sides will also realize they’ll have to have a couple different wrinkles to get out of there with a win.”

George Washington most likely will take its newfound running game out for a test drive. Over their last four games, the Patriots are averaging 288 yards on the ground after averaging less than 100 in their first seven. Against Huntington the first time, GW netted zero yards on 16 rushing plays.

“I guess what we’ll try to do is figure out what we did well [the first game] and maybe try to do a little better,” Edwards said, “and what we didn’t do so well, and do that a lot better. Basically, that’s the process we’re using right now.

“They’re really good and they played us really well. We don’t expect them to do anything different. If you watch too much film — and we got a bunch of it — you try to decipher what they really try to do. You take a look and see if there’s some wrinkles they added later in the year, maybe a trick play they don’t use all the time. Really, there’s a lot of stuff to process in a short amount of time.”

Edwards said sophomore quarterback Abe Fenwick, who missed two games and was limited in another with a broken thumb and finger on his throwing hand, has no limitations on his play. Fenwick returned for last week’s 21-7 first-round win at Greenbrier East and threw for 171 yards and three TDs.

“It’s playoff time,” Edwards said, “one and done. If you’re out there, you’ve got to go. You go until you can’t go no more. He’s a little bit stronger and better than he was last week, and we hope that bodes well.”

Rick Ryan covers prep sports. He can be reached at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@hdmediallc.com. Follow @RickRyanWV on Twitter.

Preps Sports Reporter