It’s been seven years since Valley Head defeated Cedar Bluff. That losing streak came to an end on Friday night as the Tigers defeated Cedar Bluff 20-14 and picked up their first region win of the season.
The win comes one week after the Tigers lost a heartbreaker to Section. This week Valley Head came out with the victory when Jordan Burt intercepted Cedar Bluff quarterback Jacob Burleson with 1:30 remaining in the game to seal the win.
“I’m very happy with this win,” Valley Head head coach Heath Vincent said. “It’s a big win for our program. It’s been a long time since Valley Head has beaten Cedar Bluff so this is really big for us and it’s big because we’re 1-0 in the region. Our kids have worked hard and they played tough tonight.”
While Valley Head had to hold on for the win at the end, the Tigers controlled the game with a physical brand of football.
The Tigers finished with 258 yards rushing and 303 yards of total offense, while the defense held Cedar Bluff and their offensive threats to just 196 yards of offense and 52 yards rushing.
Burleson and Bryson Morgan led the way for the Tigers as both accounted for all of Valley Head’s rushing yards.
Morgan finished with 138 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns. He also had a 31-yard touchdown catch. Burt had 120 yards on 28 carries and 3-for-6 passing for 45 yards and a touchdown. Eian Bain had two catches for 14 yards and a fumble recovery.
“Those guys had a great night and they are going to have to do that for us every week,” Vincent said. “But they have a good group around them also. I thought Bryson played great. Jordan has been a great player for us for a couple of years but Bryson battled an injury last year. I thought he really showed out tonight.”
Cedar Bluff started the game on a high note by taking the opening drive to Valley Head’s 15-yard line, but the Tigers’ defense forced a 25-yard field goal attempt which was blocked.
Morgan scored the first touchdown of the night with a 36-yard touchdown run and Noah Hulgan added the extra-point for a 7-0 Valley Head lead with 11:06 remaining in the second quarter.
Cedar Bluff evened the score with 2:44 remaining in the first half after Burleson scored on a 3-yard run.
But Valley Head quickly regained the lead with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Burt to Morgan with 11.6 seconds left in the first half. Hulgan’s extra-point gave Valley Head a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Valley Head got the ball to start the second half and scored after a 12-play, 65-yard drive that was capped off by a 5-yard run by Morgan. The extra-point failed and Valley Head had a 20-6 lead.
“The drive in the third quarter was huge for us and the score at the end of the half was huge for us,” Vincent said. “They definitely had a size advantage on us tonight but we were able to grind out a couple of long drives that took a lot of time off the clock.”
Cedar Bluff then scored on a 7-yard pass from Burleson to Leek with 3:38 left in the third quarter to make the score 20-14.
Valley Head then drove deep into Cedar Bluff territory in the fourth quarter before turning the ball over on downs with 2:05 remaining.
But the Tigers’ defense came up big with Burt’s interception that sealed the win.
Vincent was proud of the way his defense played against a team that was loaded with offensive weapons.
“They were definitely tough to defend because of all their vertical threats,” he said. “We had a bend don’t break philosophy tonight but when we needed to get stops our defense came up big for us. The last interception was huge.”
The win gives Valley Head a 2-1 record and a 1-0 record in Class 1A, Region 7 play. The Tigers will take on Woodville next week. Vincent likes the direction his team is headed.
“Cedar Bluff is a great program and getting a region win over them is great because it makes us 1-0,” he says. “There’s a lot of unknowns in our region so we will have to be ready to play every week and that starts next week with Woodville who is a very physical team.”