CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kashuan Haley's fourth-quarter touchdown run that brought Capital to within 28-21 of host Martinsburg on Saturday led to a plan that never came to fruition.
"I said to him, 'We're going to stop them, we're going to score and we're going to go for two,'" Capital Coach Jon Carpenter said Sunday, relating his conversation with sophomore quarterback Tyrhee Pratt that occurred after Haley's score with 4:47 left in the Class AAA playoff semifinal at Cobourn Field in Martinsburg a day earlier.
"He said, 'What are we going to do?' and I said, 'You're going to run it.' It was that simple. Everybody knew it," Carpenter said.
The No. 3 seed Cougars (11-2) never got the chance.
Martinsburg drove to the Capital 35-yard line with 1:25 left before calling timeout on third down. After the break, Bulldog running back Deamonte Lindsay broke through the Capital defensive run and ran for a touchdown that put the game out of reach.
The No. 2 seed Bulldogs (12-1) won 35-21, and will play top-seeded Huntington (13-0) at Wheeling Island Stadium at noon Saturday.
Should Martinsburg win it would mark the first time in history a Class AAA team has won four consecutive football state championships.
"I was pleased with that. I thought we made it a game and had a couple chances to win," Carpenter said.
Senior defensive tackle Jaisson Dyer agonized over Lindsay's score, breaking down in tears on his way back to the Capital sideline. Carpenter said Dyer and his fellow seniors have helped put Capital back on the statewide football map, but that Martinsburg enjoys a benefit of his recent streak every time it plays.
"I told Jaisson that by Saturday, the kids that are his age at Martinsburg have played 16 more games than most kids his age," Carpenter said. "They will have played in four state championship games in their career. That's almost two more regular seasons than a team that doesn't make the playoffs."
It was Pratt's emergence as a leader in the second half, however, that had the largest impression on the fourth-year Capital coach. Carpenter compared it to the play of a former Kennedy Award winner.
"I think he wanted to fight yesterday. Marc Kimes at Parkersburg had that," Carpenter said. "Kimes had this mentality that, 'We're going to win this thing no matter what. Even if I get my arms ripped off we're going to win this.'"
Kimes won the Kennedy Award in 2001, when he led Parkersburg to its second state championship in three years and led his team in rushing and passing yards.
"He is kind of taking on that kind of mentality of being tough and having the willingness to win," Carpenter said of Pratt. "There wasn't much he could do in my eyes to be better, but yesterday for him? That was huge."
Pratt finished the game with a team-high 81 rushing yards on 25 carries, and completed 12-of-16 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.