CHRISTIANSBURG-- Christiansburg quarterback Brenden Motley has had better luck than most opposing QBs against River Ridge District foe Salem. As of the Blue Demons' 42-36 win on Friday, he's 3-0 as a starter against the Spartans.
Don't think he takes his good fortune for granted however.
"They always play us tough," Motley said. "We always know it's going to be close when we play them."
The Virginia Tech-bound senior ran for two touchdowns, passed for two more, and blocked a PAT in the Blue Demons' victory.
Motley, who took over Christiansburg's quarterback duties halfway through a 45-43 regular-season loss to Salem in his sophomore year, suffered minor thumb injury that took him out of the game for a key fourth quarter series, one that ended in an interception.
"Brendan's a warrior and he came back and finished it well for us," Christiansburg coach Tim Cromer said of his signal caller.
Salem controlled the ball for most of the first half, running 38 plays from scrimmage compared to Christiansburg's 11. The Blue Demons (8-0, 3-0 River Ridge) were efficient though, and the game was tied at 21 at the half thanks to an 85-yard Zach Snell kickoff return with 50 left in the half.
"The play of the game is probably the kickoff return right before the half," Cromer said, noting that Snell's return negated a lot of Salem's momentum entering halftime.
The third quarter belonged to Motley and the Blue Demons, as he found Dee Kelly for a 26-yard touchdown and ripped off TD runs of 50 and 46 yards in the stanza. Motley's two rushing scores came on identical end-around plays that Cromer said his team has been hoping to use more.
"We had been working on that play for awhile," he said. "...Lots of times when you're playing defense, you can't account for the quarterback and he gives us an extra guy on the edge."
After the third quarter, Salem trailed 42-27 and the Blue Demons appeared to have all the momentum, but Spartan running back Marty Bishop notched a 28-yard score to pull Salem within nine points on the first play of the final quarter.
Bishop had a huge night for Salem (5-3, 2-1 River Ridge), scoring five touchdowns and rushing for 237 yards on 37 carries.
"He's a little more of a workhorse," said Salem coach Steve Magenbauer. "We try to go with who's hot and what's working."
Bishop's 237 yards on the ground paired with quarterback Matt Hill's 185 passing yards helped the Spartans gain 26 first downs in the contest.
"What they do is very hard to defend when they get rolling, and they got rolling tonight," Cromer said.
Salem kicker Drew Lyle knocked through a 19-yard field goal with 4:50 remaining to make the score 42-36 in favor of the Spartans, and Lyle's ensuing onside kick was recovered by Salem's K.J. Helm. The onside was Salem's fourth such attempt of the game, the first successful one. The previous three attempts had left the Blue Demons with prime field position, but kept the ball out of the hands of Snell and Kam Johnson, Christiansburg's dangerous return men.
"That's something we had worked on," Magenbauer said. "Certainly we hadn't planned on giving to them at the 50, but we thought we could come out with a couple of them."
Cromer immediately called his second timeout of the half.
"It was 4:50 left in the game," he explained. "I called it right then and all we did was I told our defense, 'We're going to have to stop them one time to win the game, so why not right now?'"
Cromer's defensive unit forced Bishop to fumble on third down, and the Blue Demons recovered. Two first downs, the second a 21-yard quarterback draw by Motley on fourth-and-7 ended the contest, which Cromer described as a "slugfest."
Salem's 36 points is the first time Christiansburg has allowed more than 13 points this season. Cromer attributed that more to Salem's offensive prowess.
"I know we got stops when we needed to," he said. "They pounded us big time tonight and we've got to look if that's an issue on our part … We haven't played a team that's got a back like [Bishop] yet."
1 2 3 4 T
S 7 14 6 9 36
C 14 7 21 0 42
S - Bishop 2 run (Lyle kick)
C - Davis 39 pass from Motley (Hamley kick)
C - Snell 69 run (Hamley kick)
S - Bishop 10 run (Lyle kick)
S - Bishop 1 run (Lyle kick)
C - Snell 85 kick return (Hamley kick)
C - Kelly 26 pass from Motley (Hamley kick)
S - Bishop 23 run (kick blocked)
C - Motley 50 run (Hamley kick)
C - Motley 46 run (Hamley kick)
S - Bishop 28 run (run failed)
S - Lyle FG 19
First downs 26 15
Yards rushing 297 299
Passing C-A-I 11-15-0 5-8-1
Yards passing 185 84
Penalties-yards 7-60 2-17
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Punts-average 2-29.0 1-46.0
RUSHING - Salem, Bishop 37-237, Daniels 16-57, Hill 1-3. Christiansburg, Motley 9-139, Snell 10-98, Johnson 7-39, Augustin 3-21.
PASSING - Salem, Hill 11-15-0-185. Christiansburg, Motley 3-5-0-70, Price 2-3-1-14.
RECEIVING - Salem, Helm 4-116, Edwards 5-53, Taylor 2-16. Christiansburg, Davis 1-39, Kelly 2-32, Johnson 1-5, Snell 1-6.