Buford vs. Lovejoy

The Buford Wolves beat Lovejoy High School in the second round of the Class 6A football playoffs on Friday, Nov. 19.

Playing at Tom Riden Stadium, the Wolves secured a decisive 44-7 victory over the Lovejoy Wildcats.

Buford lost the coin toss and received the ball first. The Wolves started strong with No. 6 Victor Venn running the ball in for a quick touchdown at 11:04. A two point conversion by No. 43 Malik Spencer saw Buford go up 8-0.

The Buford defense bottles up a Lovejoy ball carrier during the Wolves’ 44-7 victory over Lovejoy. Photo by David McGregor

Pressing the Wildcats hard, the Buford defense secured a safety at 8:49 when the Lovejoy center hiked the ball over the head of their kicker, leaving the score 10-0.

Refusing to let up, the defense then blocked a Lovejoy punt in their own end zone, and No. 19 KJ Bolden recovered the ball for another Wolves touchdown. A solid point after kick by No. 99 Alejandro Mata followed by a successful 48 yard field goal attempt by the kicker meant Buford finished the first quarter leading the game 20-0.

Buford head coach Bryant Appling said, “For the second week in a row our kids started fast and set the tone for the game in the first quarter. I was really proud of how physical they played and the way we executed on both sides of the ball.”

Going into the second quarter, Lovejoy couldn’t seem to find an answer for Buford’s short passing plays and runs to the outside as Bolden received a 26 yard pass from No. 17 Dylan Wittke and ran the ball in for another Wolves touchdown.

After an apparent touchdown by Buford, No.1 Isaiah Bond was called back for a holding penalty against the Wolves. The senior wide receiver persevered and scored again after a 30 yard pass from No. 12 Ashton Daniels, bringing the scoreline to 34-0.

On the verge of achieving a first down, Lovejoy attempted a trick play on fourth down with one yard to go, but the Wolves’ defense held them off again. Another touchdown by Buford No. 4 Tobi Olawole and a successful extra point saw the Wolves head to the locker room for halftime, comfortable in their 41-0 lead.

A strong third quarter 33 yard field goal attempt by the Wolves’ No. 95 Mario Ventura saw the scoreline rise to 44-0.

Buford’s Dawson Andrew (11) and KJ Bolden (19) celebrate a tackle. Photo by David McGregor

The Wildcats finally bit back in the fourth quarter after a pass interference penalty on Buford gave them a first down. Lovejoy No. 2 Trevon Kinchen used that momentum to earn a consolation touchdown, receiving a pass from No. 3 Stephin Craig with 2:21 on the clock, and a good extra point meant the game finished 44-7 in Buford’s favor.

The Wolves dominated the game with 179 rushing yards in 30 attempts and 125 passing yards with 8/10 complete passes compared to Lovejoy’s 35 rushing yards in 23 attempts and 44 passing yards with 2/10 complete.

Appling added that, “Practicing on Thanksgiving is always a goal in high school football because it means that you are in select company of teams in the state. It’s going to be a great game next week against Lee County in what I’m sure will be a terrific atmosphere. Our kids are definitely excited and ready for the challenge.”

Next up, Buford, now with an overall 11-1 record, will play Lee County in the third round of playoffs after Lee’s 42-39 victory over Cambridge.

FEATURED PHOTO ABOVE: Buford’s KJ Bolden (19) races towards the end zone for a touchdown on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in the AAAAAA state playoffs against Lovejoy. Photo by David McGregor

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