QB Martin, Cougars came oh so close in ’16
CHARLESTON — Capital quarterback Kerry Martin Jr. feels as though his team has some unfinished business in Wayne County.
The No. 3 Cougars (11-1), competing in the Class AAA playoff semifinals for a sixth straight season, find a familiar foe awaiting them Friday when they meet up with No. 2 Spring Valley (12-0). Kickoff is 1:30 p.m.
The scene was the same two years ago, as Capital invaded the Timberwolves’ den in the semifinals, with the winner advancing to Wheeling Island Stadium for the title game in the Super Six championships.
Spring Valley claimed a thrilling 20-14 win in that afternoon game, with quarterback Derek Johnson scrambling 49 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-7 play with 36 seconds left to break a 14-14 tie. It gave the Wolves their first trip to
Wheeling for the state finals, where they fell to Martinsburg.
Martin, now a senior, was the Cougars’ quarterback that year, too, and recalls the anguish of coming so close but failing to finish out the game. Capital put together a lengthy drive on its only full possession of the fourth quarter, moving 64 yards in 13 plays and getting a first-and-goal just outside the Wolves’ 1-yard line.
But the Cougars never punched it across, and never broke that deadlock.
On fourth-and-goal from inches away, Martin’s dive for the end zone was stopped short and the Wolves took over at their own 1 with 4:55 remaining. They moved 99 yards in seven plays to win it on Johnson’s memorable scramble.
Capital was only able to reach midfield when the game ended. Now, two years later, Martin and the Cougars feel like they get a do-over this week.
“Oh yeah, definitely, for sure,” Martin said.
Martin recalls Capital held a 14-7 lead midway into the third quarter after Deshaun James broke off a 44-yard touchdown run.
“We were up in that game,” Martin said, “and as the quarterback of the offense at the time, I feel like it could’ve been even better. It could have been 14-0. We just couldn’t get past that, we couldn’t get over that hump, that extra hump to put us ahead, put us in the lead and put them in a bad position, having to scramble hard.”
Martin completed 10 of 20 passes for 147 yards and one TD in that 2016 semifinal loss, and James carried nine times for 68 yards and a score.
“So we should come into this game with more focus,” Martin said, “and have a great week of practice. We’re off (from school) all week, so there should be no problem about practice time.”
Capital coach Jon Carpenter realizes that in order to get past Spring Valley his team has to put more points on the board. The Timberwolves have beaten the Cougars four consecutive times, by scores of 21-13 (this season), 35-28, 20-14 and 21-0.
“I think we’re getting better each week on offense,” Carpenter said. “We’ve just got to keep working. We play great defense every time. When our offense has to step up and score points, we do well.”
When the teams met in the regular season Sept. 28 at University of Charleston Stadium, Spring Valley pounded out 309 rushing yards in its 21-13 victory. Graeson Malashevich ran 12 times for 128 yards and two TDs, and Owen Chafin added 121 yards and one score.
The Wolves drained the final 7:13 off the clock with their ground game that night, not allowing Capital a chance to get the ball, forge a tie to send it to overtime.