Capital knew it had to play stellar defense to get past George Washington Friday night. But exactly how much defense, it couldn't have guessed.
Jordan Kinney intercepted his second pass of the game at his own 4-yard line with 19 seconds remaining, preserving a 14-6 victory for the Cougars against their crosstown rival in front of a large crowd at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills.
Quarterback Tyhree Pratt and running back Kashuan Haley each broke off long scoring runs in the second quarter and the Cougars and their defense made it stand up.
The victory likely locked up the No. 3 seed for Capital (9-1) in the Class AAA playoffs, meaning the possibility of two home games. The final ratings and first-round pairings will be determined late tonight.
The No. 5 Patriots (8-2) came into the game averaging 46.7 points and hadn't been held below 34 in any game.
"Shoot, our defense played lights out,'' said Capital coach Jon Carpenter. "That's a game ball for all those coaches. That's why I hired Freddie Myers. I'm not stupid. You've got good players, you've got to have good coaches. Mark Mason, Larry Moore -- all those guys do a good job. The defense played well. I never dreamed we'd hold them to six.''
Capital's defense was denying not only at the end of the game, but especially in the beginning.
Three of GW's first four possessions ended at the Capital 8 (yielding the ball on downs), 16 (lost fumble) and 4 (downs). In the waning seconds of the first half, the Patriots got to the Cougars 19, but Kinney picked off a Jon Alexander pass in his own end zone to thwart that drive.
By halftime, GW had run 43 plays to Capital's 21, dominating first downs and the time of possession, but had nothing to show for it, trailing 14-0.
Capital got that advantage by virtue of three big plays.
Pratt burst 54 yards for a touchdown on an option play that came from an audible called by Carpenter from the sideline moments before the ball was snapped. On the Cougars' next possession, Tyhree Pratt threw a deep ball to older brother Cliff Pratt for a 37-yard gain and Haley snapped off a 34-yard TD run on the following play, leaving GW defensive lineman Adam Huffman pounding the ground in disgust for a missed tackle at the line of scrimmage.
Those three big gainers, along with an earlier 36-yard run by Tyhree Pratt, provided Capital with 161 of its net of 224 yards for the game -- and all came in the first half.
"I don't think that was good enough,'' Tyhree Pratt said. "We wanted to come out and score some more, but it didn't work out that way. We just kept playing hard and not letting down, and our defense stepped up like they did the last couple of weeks.''