CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Don't tell Capital coach Jon Carpenter that Austin Hensley and Hurricane can't beat the good teams.
Hensley has led the Redskins to victories over the Cougars each of the past two seasons, including one in thrilling fashion last year, driving his team 80 yards and scoring on his own 1-yard run with nine seconds left for a 23-20 win.
That flies in the face of the conventional knock on Hurricane, which is 14-0 against teams with losing or .500 records since Hensley took over at quarterback as a sophomore, and 5-12 versus teams with winning records.
"He's beat us twice,'' Carpenter said, then added wryly, "so we must not be very good.''
Hensley and Hurricane get another shot at Capital tonight, visiting Laidley Field at 7:30 in a tussle of Class AAA playoff hopefuls. The Cougars (7-1) enter the game tied for No. 4 in the ratings, with the Redskins (5-3) at the moment holding the 16th and final spot.
"I thought he took the game over last year on that last drive,'' Carpenter said of Hensley. "He did a real good job. If there's anybody around here better than him, I don't know about them.''
The game matches teams that like to pile up the points. Hurricane averages almost 46 points and Capital nearly 40. The Redskins also crank out 214 yards per game on the ground and 250 in the air.
"That's worrisome,'' Carpenter said of Hurricane's balance, "because it's a little bit easier to stop people who are one-dimensional. Offensively, they're tougher to handle than most people. They just don't beat theirself. We're fortunate to get them later in the year to get our ducks in a row and get a better chance.''
The Patriots expect the return of senior running back Draven Riffe (1,379 yards, 18 TDs), who sat out the last two games with an ankle injury. In his stead, Jacob Jackson has carried the load with 64 attempts, 635 yards and eight touchdowns in his two starts.
The Dragons held Winfield's Chris Turner to four catches and 39 yards last year, but couldn't stop the Generals from rushing for 300-plus yards. SA hopes for the return of quarterback Noah Reed, who missed last week's game with an illness.
Logan's Brynden "Worm'' Street needs 90 rushing yards to go over 1,000 for the season. Josh Rein has accounted for 11 TDs for Logan, five receiving, four rushing and two passing. Nitro's Nick Brown (601 yards) has taken over the team's rushing lead from Brayden Underwood (597), who has missed the last three games with a groin injury.
The Big Reds allow 283 rushing yards per game and have given up 33 rushing TDs in eight games - good news for a Warriors attack that ran for 244 yards against South Charleston a week ago. Riverside also gets back leading rusher Will Jackson, who sat out the last game with an injury.
Poca has tallied at least two TDs in every game this year, but can't keep the other team from putting up 41 points per game. Last year, the Dots allowed 353 rushing yards in a 53-24 setback to Sissonville.
The game pits two of the top rushers in the Cardinal Conference - Shaun Dotson of Hoover (1,043 yards, 12 TDs) and Deonte Joplin of the Miners (672 yards, six TDs). Last year, the Huskies fell to Mingo Central 44-0, with the Huskies held to 194 net yards.
The injury-ravaged Bison have been dressing just two seniors in recent weeks - top receiver Isaiah Robinson and defensive back Mack Williams, the team's leading tackler.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.
All games at 7:30 p.m. unless noted