Friday’s football game between Hidden Valley and Christiansburg marked the latest installment in a River Ridge district rivalry that has been marked mostly by blowouts and lopsided scores for the last decade.
The most recent edition, however, provided plenty of drama to make up for any that has been lacking, as Hidden Valley overcame an early deficit and held on for a 21-13 victory.
It was Hidden Valley’s fifth consecutive win over the Blue Demons, but just the second instance in the last 12 meetings that the game was decided by fewer than 10 points.
Quarterback Grayson Carroll finished 19 of 29 for 245 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Titans (2-5, 1-2), while receiver Kelly Mitchell added eight receptions for 122 yards and two scores.
Christiansburg quarterback Jake Clemons finished with 137 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
“I thought our kids responded really well and played hard tonight,” Hidden Valley coach Scott Weaver said. “We most certainly didn’t play perfect but that’s a credit to Christiansburg and how hard they played and how well those kids are coached. We did enough good things to win a really competitive game.
“Sitting where we were coming into this game, I will definitely take an ugly win.”
The Blue Demons outgained the Titans 339-267, but were unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities while the Titans were able to convert big plays at crucial times.
“This win means a lot, we’ve been through a ton this season but we’ve been practicing hard the last few weeks and it feels awesome to have it pay off,” Mitchell said. “I personally started the year off slow but the coaches have been trying to get me more involved and more focused and I’m really starting to tell a difference.”
Christiansburg (1-6, 0-3) opened the scoring on the very first drive of the game, moving 58 yards on six plays before kicker Jordan Harman nailed a 34-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. The teams then traded punts for the next five possessions before the Demons scored again, this time on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Clemons to Rally Williams.
The Titans hit paydirt on their next possession, however, as Carroll marched the offense 75 yards on 10 plays, finding Mitchell for his first score of the game. The scoring drive took 3 minutes and 10 seconds and cut the Christiansburg lead to 10-7 with 8:13 left in the first half.
After forcing two more Christiansburg punts, the Hidden Valley offense was able to score again just before the end of the first half. Carroll found wide receiver Jacob Pardon with single coverage on the outside and Pardon was able to race away from the entire defense, galloping 59 yards for a touchdown to put the Titans ahead 14-10.
Just like in the first half, the Demons were able to score a field goal on their first drive of the third quarter. Clemons led the offense on a 11-play, 41-yard drive before Harman made his second attempt of the game, this time from 31 yards. The score cut the lead to 14-13 with 4:16 left in the third quarter.
The Hidden Valley offense would once again have a quick-fire response, however. Carroll again pushed the offense on a long drive, this time keyed by a 35-yard completion to speedster Aaron Moore. Carroll then hooked up with Mitchell for the second time, pushing the Titans’ lead back to 21-13 with 3:10 left in the third.
The Blue Demons had chances on each of their final three possessions to tie the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but the Titan s held strong each time. Christiansburg got as close as fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line, but Clemons was stuffed on a quarterback keeper attempt and the Titans took over on downs.
The Demons had one final chance on fourth-and-10 from the Hidden Valley 14 with less than two minutes left, but the pass was dropped in the end zone.
“It just comes down to their guys made some plays in clutch situations and our guys didn’t unfortunately, that’s just the way it goes sometimes,” Christiansburg coach Alex Wilkens said. “Part of becoming a winning program is having that mindset and being able to make plays when it counts.”