Buford defeats North Cobb in close battle of top-ranked 7A teams | North Gwinnett Voice
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During a messy, wet game at Tom Riden Stadium, No. 1-ranked Buford managed to get the win over No. 4-ranked North Cobb on Friday, Sept. 2, thanks to a late fourth-quarter touchdown by senior running back Justice Haynes. That touchdown sealed Buford’s win 21-14 to keep the Wolves undefeated at 3-0 in the young season.

Haynes was undoubtedly vital to the Wolves’ victory, scoring all three of Buford’s touchdowns in the battle with the Warriors.

In the first quarter, Buford came out with the energy and intensity to get on the board first. The Wolves got Haynes into position to score, and he delivered with a 41-yard touchdown run on their first possession. Just one possession later, Haynes dodged the Warriors’ defense and ran 51 yards for another touchdown. Freshman kicker JB Gregory made both extra points to put Buford up 14-0 with 3:02 left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, mistakes proved costly for Buford, including a fumble by Justin Baker at the 1-yard line. North Cobb recovered the fumble and the Warriors went into halftime with possession of the ball.

“I feel like we left a whole lot of opportunities out there,” Buford head coach Bryant Appling said. “We played really really well in the beginning. (We) played great on offense first quarter, great on defense first half.”

After halftime, North Cobb came back looking like a different team as the Warriors hard to get on the board. They would capitalize off of a 17-play, 81-yard drive when Malachi Singleton threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to David Mbadinga with 1:34 left in the third quarter. Buford was still up by a touchdown at 14-7 going into the fourth quarter.

Much like the rain, North Cobb would not let up. Buford senior quarterback Dylan Wittke was intercepted for the second time in the game just over midway through the fourth quarter. Singleton would keep the ball on the next two plays with the second play ending with a 7-yard touchdown run to tie the game up at 14-14.

Buford has proven time and time again that no one should count them out when times get tough in the final minutes of a game. Wittke and Haynes would both have runs to set up Gregory for a field goal attempt.

With 1:39 left in the game, Gregory would make good on a 33-yard field goal but in the process was tackled causing North Cobb to get a penalty for roughing the kicker.

Appling made the decision to accept the penalty and put his offense back on the field with a fresh first down. It would turn out to be a very profitable decision for the Wolves as Haynes would leap into the end zone with 42 seconds left on the clock to put Buford up 21-14.

The Warriors had a chance to tie up the game in the waning moments, but Buford defensive back Jordan Allen intercepted a pass from Singleton to end any chance North Cobb had to send the game into overtime.

“(In the) second half we were just a different team,” Appling said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do to stay out front. You make mistakes in the rain and it will cost you. So we gotta figure out a way to correct those mistakes and not have this same deal happen again.”

Buford has a bye week coming up and will not hit the field again until a game against Carver (Atlanta) at home on Friday, Sept. 16. The game starts at 7:30 p.m.

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