Anyone looking to write Capital's football obituary is going to have to wait. The Cougars certainly aren't done yet.
James Richmond and Kashaun Haley each rushed for more than 100 yards and quarterback Tyhree Pratt threw for a pair of touchdowns Friday night as the Cougars shocked everyone but themselves, running off with a 35-13 victory over state-ranked George Washington at Laidley Field.
Richmond and Haley ran for 129 yards apiece, Richmond on 13 carries (with two second-half TDs) and Haley on 14 attempts. Haley also caught a 54-yard scoring pass from Pratt, whose other TD toss went to Tyrell Davis from 1 yard out.
Rayqon Vanover helped seal the deal for the Cougars (5-3) when he picked off a Trevor Bell pass and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown and a 28-13 lead with 6:51 left in the game.
Second-half slumps contributed to Capital's three losses earlier this season and put its playoff hopes in peril, but on Friday it broke away from a 7-all halftime tie against the Patriots (6-2), snapping their five-game winning streak and soiling their No. 4 ranking in Class AAA.
"I think this is supposed to be where I take all the credit and say how smart I am,'' said Capital coach Jon Carpenter, "but I skipped practice two, three times this week and let the assistants go. Our young guys grew up. I've got to give the kids and the assistant coaches all the credit.''
The Cougars were able to contain GW tailback and Kennedy Award winner Ryan Switzer, holding him to a season-low 130 yards for a full game on a season-high 29 carries. Switzer failed to score a touchdown, halting a 20-game streak of getting at least one TD.
Switzer's longest run on Friday was 16 yards after he came into the game with 13 TDs of more than 50 yards.
"I love the D-line,'' said Capital defensive lineman Jaisson Dyer, who figured heavily into holding GW to 173 net yards rushing. "I love them to death. We were doing what we had to do. We were doing it. We have focus on what we've got to do this year, and it turned around this game.''
Switzer had only 69 yards in GW's opener against South Charleston, but exited that game with a concussion less than halfway through the first quarter. He sat out GW's only previous loss the following week against Ashland (Ky.), and had been averaging 291 yards for the five games since his return. He got less than half that Friday.
"I kept telling our linebacker [Jonathan Pittman] to keep an eye on 31 and 32 [GW fullback Dustin Crouser],'' Haley said. "If we stop them, we stop the run game, and we're going to win.''
GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. said Capital didn't do anything different from other opponents in its quest to slow down Switzer. The Cougars just did it better.
"They played harder than our kids,'' Edwards said. "They took it to us, and that happens. Their kids were hungry and played like they were hungry. They outplayed us in all facets of the ballgame.
"I felt like our kids didn't answer the call when they should have. They missed a lot of plays, missed a lot of opportunities. But credit [Capital's players]. They kept us out of the end zone several times. They can talk youth all they want, but they've got a lot of game-time experience over there. They did a really nice job preparing. They had a chance to turn away, and they didn't. They took advantage of us.''