By RICH POLIKOFF
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. —
Jeff Williams wasn’t sure how long it had been since Giles had defeated Christiansburg, but he certainly knew the significance of it.
“This is my sixth year as head coach and we hadn’t beaten them before tonight,” Williams said following his team’s 28-24 victory Friday night. “This is a hostile environment here, a great program, so it’s a huge win for us.”
For the second consecutive week, the Spartans (2-0) returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and the one they had against the Blue Demons (1-2) couldn’t have come at a better time.
Following a recovery of a Giles fumble by Seth Wills near midfield, Christiansburg quarterback Charlie Jackson scored on a 1-yard run with 9:01 remaining in the game, putting the Blue Demons ahead 17-14. The ensuing kickoff was a squib kick, and Tyler Perdue bobbled the ball as he tried to pick it up, but once he got ahold of it, he burst through a hole and ran 89 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.
Giles added another touchdown on a 74-yard run by Brett Whitlow with 3:41 remaining, then withstood a furious Christiansburg comeback to hold on for the victory. Ryan Saunders hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jackson with 1:16 to go, capping an 80-yard drive that lasted all of 24 seconds, and the Blue Demons followed by recovering an onside kick.
But Giles’ defense came through. Cameron Perkins had a sack on first down, and the Spartans’ heavy pressure forced Christiansburg into three consecutive incomplete passes.
Jackson was sacked three times by Giles, which was consistently able to force him to scramble from the pocket.
“We didn’t blitz a lot, but we got after them,” Williams said. “Our secondary played great, and our front put some pressure on their quarterback. They made him make some tough throws on the run.”
Brian Mann put Giles ahead 7-0 midway through the first quarter when he scored on a 20-yard run, capping an 86-yard drive. Both teams missed field goals in the first half, but the Blue Demons also made one, a 23-yarder by Jake Hamley late in the second quarter that cut the halftime deficit to 7-3.
After Zane Christian forced a fumble that the Blue Demons recovered on the Giles 30 yard-line, they took their first lead of the night when Jackson found Kory Hendricks for an 18-yard touchdown pass. Whitlow answered with a 45-yard kickoff return, and Cody Rhodes kept the drive going with a 10-yard reception on third-and-8.
On the next play, Perdue put the Spartans back on top with a 38-yard touchdown run.
“I thought we did a good job, but it was an uphill battle all night,” Christiansburg coach Tim Cromer said. “Giles had a lot to do with that. We had some execution issues early, and the second half came down to a kickoff return.”
Whitlow gained 173 yards on 18 carries.
Giles......................................7 0 7 14 — 28
Christiansburg.....................0 3 7 14 — 24
G - Mann 20 run (Whitlow kick), 5:13
C – Hamley 23 field goal, 1:59
C – Hendricks 18 pass from Jackson (Hamley kick), 7:25
G – Perdue 38 run (Whitlow kick), 5:13
C – Jackson 1 run (Hamley kick), 9:01
G – Perdue 89 kick return (Whitlow kick), 8:45
G – Whitlow 74 run (Whitlow kick), 3:41
C – Saunders 35 pass from Jackson (Hamley kick), 1:16
Rushing: Giles: Whitlow 18-173, Mann 14-60, Perdue 7-49. Christiansburg: Reed 10-83, Hendricks 8-37, Adkins 5-21, Cridlin 4-21, Jackson 12-(-7).
Passing – Giles: Mann 4-6-0-66, Perdue 0-1-0-0. Christiansburg: Jackson 6-21-1-130
Receiving– Giles: Rhodes 2-49, Teats 1-24, Whitlow 1-(-7). Christiansburg: Hamley 2-52, Saunders 1-35, Hendricks 1-18, Dunn 1-16, Reed 1-9.