CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last year, Capital felt like it let one get away against fellow Class AAA power Cabell Midland. The Cougars weren't about to make the same mistake twice.
Kashuan Haley broke off three long scoring runs and defensive end James Walton played like a man possessed Friday night, sparking Capital to a satisfying 35-26 victory at Laidley Field.
The Cougars (5-1) came into the game as the No. 8 team in the playoff ratings, one spot behind the Knights (5-2).
Haley, who carried 18 times for 235 yards, scored on a 31-yard run with 1:36 left to ice it after the Knights had whittled their deficit to 28-26.
"Our kids played hard,'' said Capital coach Jon Carpenter. "I'm proud of them. God smiled on us. We had a lot of young guys step up and that's the whole key to us. If we can stay together as a team, we're as good as anybody around.''
A year ago, Capital led the Knights 13-7 going into the fourth quarter at Laidley Field, but let it slip away in a 21-13 setback. Midland went on to win its first 13 games and take the No. 1 playoff seed all the way into the state finals, where it lost to Martinsburg.
"Last year, we were beating them and they came back and beat us,'' Haley said. "But we kept the tempo up tonight and played hard. Then they played harder, but we came out with the win.''
Capital seemed like it might blow the game open on a couple of occasions in the second half, taking leads of 21-7 and 28-13 in the third quarter, first on a 25-yard run by freshman Silas Nazario and then a 64-yarder by Haley.
The Knights, however, took advantage of several Cougars miscues to work their way back into it.
Late in the third quarter, with Capital up 21-7, Midland was forced to punt and Haley watched the ball bound toward his 25. It took a funny hop and glanced off his knee, with Alex Childers covering the ball for the Knights at the Capital 20. Two plays later, Kasey Thomas scored on a 7-yard run.
On Capital's very next offensive snap, Haley burst 64 yards around right end for a touchdown and it was 28-13.
"That was makeup for what I did fumbling the punt,'' Haley said.
But Capital gave Midland another opportunity as the third quarter wound down.
From his own 30, Capital's Tyrhee Pratt tried to dump off a pass but it was swallowed up by Bobby Mitchell, who returned it to the Cougars 27. Early in the fourth quarter, Teran Barnitz scored on a 5-yard run to lower the lead to 28-20.