Hidden Valley’s Region IV Division 4 football playoff debut was delayed last week because of a first-round bye.
Friday night at Dwight Bogle Stadium, the visiting Christiansburg Blue Demons had a delay of their own, promptly turning it into a 31-6 win over the Titans to advance to a rematch this Friday with undefeated Salem at Salem Stadium.
Christiansburg had received word in the late afternoon that traffic was backed up on Interstate 81 for ten miles, thus giving cause for an early departure and change of route to the Roanoke Valley.
“We were instructed to go Rt. 460 to avoid the tieup, and it became a bottleneck when it went to one lane,” Christiansburg head coach Tim Cromer noted at midfield after the game. “It (taking the alternate route) was a big mistake. We were sitting still on 460 and could see the traffic rolling on the interstate.”
The delay caused the team, its band and Blue Demon fans to arrive late, with the kickoff held up for over 30 minutes on what would become a very chilly night.
Once things got underway, more than the interstate traffic began to roll.
After Hidden Valley failed to move the ball on its opening two possessions, Christiansburg struck first when senior running back Joey Augustin scored from 29-yards out. Jake Hamley’s PAT put the Blue Demons up 7-0.
Hidden Valley took the ensuing kickoff and seemed ready to answer when they drove inside the Blue Demon 10-yard line. But, a third down snap miscue led to a 18-yard loss, followed by a fourth down incompletion that gave the ball back to Christiansburg.
The Blue Demons wasted no time, with running back Tanner Reed picking up 57 yards on the first play from scrimmage, leading to a Hamley 30-yard field goal that gave Christiansburg the 10-0 advantage.
Augustin made it 17-0 later in the second quarter after a 3-yard touchdown run.
Hidden Valley got on the scoreboard just before halftime when Duke-bound Jake Kite hauled in a 8-yard touchdown pass from Titan quaterback Nic Ratliff. A blocked point-after sent the teams to the locker room with Christiansburg holding the 17-6 lead.
The Titans looked to get a break when a third quarter Blue Demon pass appeared to result in a fumble and turnover. But, the official ruled down by contact and Christianburg retained possession.
“That was the turning point of the game,” Hidden Valley head coach Scott Weaver said outside the Titan locker room. “We thought we had the turnover, or an incompletion at worst. It would have given us a chance to get within striking distance.”
Instead, Augustin followed with a pair of touchdown runs of 3 and 59 yards to cushion the lead to 31-6. The Blue Demon defense held from there to secure the win.
Hidden Valley had defeated Christiansburg 28-0 on this same field in mid-October in the River Ridge regular season matchup, after scoring 21 points in a span of 1:59 late in the first half. What a difference a month would make.
“That was one of the worst Friday nights we ever had here at Christianburg,” Cromer said of the earlier defeat. “Tonight we got up 17-0 and that was the difference. Up front, we did a great job.”
Christiansburg amassed 308 yards on the ground with Augustin getting 165, Reed 65 and DeQuan Green-Gause 64 yards. The Blue Demons only threw three times all night.
Hidden Valley’s usually powerful rushing attack was held to 55 yards. Forced into passing as the deficit mounted, Ratliff threw for 182 yards on 20-for-39 efficiency.
“We got behind 17-0 and it got us out of our ground and pound,” Weaver added. “We dropped passes and left between 14 and 21 points on the field. You can’t do that against good River Ridge teams.”