CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- University's John Kelley has spent more than two decades as one of the most quotable football coaches in West Virginia, with Capital's Jon Carpenter emerging from the same mold in his first four years with the Cougars.
There was precious little the two verbose coaches needed to explain Saturday, however, as Capital pounded the Hawks 65-14 in a Class AAA playoff quarterfinal at Laidley Field that punched the Cougars' ticket for their first trip to the semifinals since 1999.
"All these guys are convinced they play midget league championships on Thanksgiving," Carpenter said of his underclassman-dominated squad. "They'll be upset when they find out they've got to practice on Thanksgiving day."
Capital (11-1) will play at three-time defending state champion and No. 2 seed Martinsburg (11-1) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals.
After Capital spotted University a 7-0 lead thanks to a drive-saving facemask call on the game's third play, the Cougars dominated every phase of the quarterfinal, led by running back Kashuan Haley. The junior had 126 of his game-high 153 rushing yards in the first half and scored both his rushing touchdowns in the second quarter.
Haley said the extra day of practice leading into the quarterfinals helped the Cougars maximize their opportunities.
"We had that extra day of practice Thursday then a walk-through on Friday and went out to eat with the team Friday night," Haley said. "We were hyped, and came out and gave it our all."
The combination of Capital's readiness and University's inability to get out of its own way with turnovers paved the way for the rout. After Haley's second score, Capital senior Edmund Harvey intercepted a pass from Hawks quarterback Travis Renner and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cougars a 35-7 lead just before halftime.
It was the first of two interceptions thrown by Renner, and both were returned for touchdowns. Tyrell Davis grabbed a deflected pass out of the air in the third quarter and ran it back 55 yards for a score.
Even when the Hawks had a bright moment, such as a 28-yard touchdown pass from Renner to senior Jack Armstrong that Renner threw with perfect touch and placement, Capital was able to quickly retake momentum. After Armstrong's touchdown, Haley took the ensuing kickoff at his own 8-yard line, ran into a pack of would-be tacklers near the 25, managed to stay upright and escaped before breaking for the sideline.