CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With talented athletes all over the artificial playing surface at UC Stadium, Friday night's intra-city matchup between George Washington and Capital figured to produce an abundance of offensive fireworks.
Unfortunately for Class AAA No. 3 George Washington, the biggest highlights of the evening were produced by the Cougars' young and cat quick defense.
Capital defenders dominated the line of scrimmage, bottled up Kennedy Award-winning running back Ryan Switzer and added a backbreaking fourth quarter interception return for a touchdown in propelling the Cougars to a 35-13 pasting of the Patriots.
Capital, which came into the game ranked 19th in the Secondary School Activities Commission's Class AAA playoff ratings, improved to 5-3, while George Washington, which was fourth in those rankings, dropped to 6-2.
"I like watching all that fancy offense, but I've been around good football coaches, and I know it takes a good defense to win games," Capital Coach Jon Carpenter said. "Our kids did a heck of a job.
"I'm tickled to death for those guys. There are a lot of good guys in there that we keep waiting and waiting for them to grow up and be great football players. About five or six of them took a big step in that direction tonight."
The Cougars limited Switzer to 127 yards on 28 carries, while bruising fullback Dustin Crouser was limited to 28 yards on four carries.
Most importantly, the Cougars kept both Division I recruits out of the end zone.
"Their backs were against the wall and they did what they needed to do," GW Coach Steve Edwards, Jr. said of the Cougars' effort. "They came to play, they did a great job at preparation and they took it to us. It happens ... it just happens.
"They did a really nice job, they really did. Their kids were hungry and they played like they were hungry. They outplayed us in all facets of the ballgame."
The swarming Capital defenders tackled well in space and lived in the Patriots' backfield in limiting the Patriots' usually explosive offense to just 246 total yards, including 162 yards on 47 carries.
George Washington started strong with 96 total yards of offense in its first two possessions and took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when Jacob Jackson hauled in a 15 yard TD pass from Trevor Bell.
Capital evened the contest three minutes before the half Kashuan Haley took a pass from Tyhree Pratt and darted 54 yards for the score.
Capital took a 14-7 lead with 8:34 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard TD pass from Pratt to Tyrell Davis, but GW answered less than two minutes later when Bell connected with Jackson for the second time, this one from eight yards out.
A blocked extra point preserved the Cougars' lead at 14-13 before they closed out the contest with three unanswered touchdowns.
James Richmond added touchdowns runs of 19 and two yards, and Rayquan Vanover picked off an attempted screen pass to Crouser and rumbled 21 yards for a score in a 21-0 scoring spurt in the game's final 16 minutes.
Haley led the Cougars with 140 yards on 15 carries, and his 54 receiving yards were also a team best. Richmond finished with 119 yards on 12 totes.
Pratt finished 5-of-14 for 85 yards and two scores for Capital, while Bell, who was sacked four times, finished 8-of-16 for 78 yards.
The win bolstered the Cougars' chances for a Class AAA playoff spot after entering the contest just out of the playoff picture.
"If we don't win this one, it really puts us in a hole," Carpenter said. "I'm just really happy for the kids. God smiled on us...all the breaks seemed to go our way for once. I'm just proud of those guys."
For GW, the loss put a dent in the Patriots quest to host a first-round playoff game.
"They just played harder than our kids," said Edwards, Jr. "I felt like our kids just didn't answer the call when they should have.
"I'm disappointed in our effort tonight. Nobody likes to lose, but hopefully we'll regroup and use our maturity to try and regroup a little bit."
Their next outing won't be much simpler for the Patriots, who host Columbus-based St. Francis DeSales next week. Capital plays at home again next Friday - its third consecutive home contest - against Beckley.
CAPITAL 35, GEORGE WASHINGTON 13