With a 21-6 victory over the Carrollton Trojans on Friday, Dec. 3, the Wolves progress to the GHSA AAAAAA state championship.
“Getting an opportunity to play for a State Championship is never something we take for granted in our program,” said Buford head coach Bryant Appling, “and I’m excited for this team to have a chance to cement their names in Buford football history.”
After losing the coin toss and receiving the ball first, Buford hit the ground running with a touchdown in its first possession run in by No. 6 Victor Venn. With a successful point after kick by No. 99 Alejandro Mata, the Wolves took an early 7-0 lead.
After a strong returning drive of runs down the middle that troubled the Buford defense, the Trojans lost possession following an unsuccessful fourth down push. The Wolves proceeded to show their offensive strength, using their characteristic outside runs and short outside passing to advance the ball up the field for another touchdown by No. 19 KJ Bolden, who received the ball on the outside and ran it 36 yards down the line to the end zone.
Another successful extra point by Mata ended the first quarter with Buford holding a comfortable 14-0 lead.
The Wolves faltered somewhat early in the second quarter, fumbling the ball at 11:11 and allowing it to be recovered by Carrollton. Their defense remained solid, however, and forced the Trojans to punt before the offense continued to use the full width of the field to advance.
A daring attempt to gain the two required yards on a fourth down backfired for the Wolves, and after the turnover, Carrollton No. 84 Jacob Russell attempted a field goal with just seconds remaining in the half. The successful 32-yard kick sent the teams to the locker room with Buford ahead 14-3.
The Trojans opened the second half with a string of long passes that the Buford defense couldn’t seem to keep up with. This led the Trojans to another successful 30-yard field goal by Russell, bringing the score to 14-6.
Buford began to adapt to the passing play, and after the defense forced a Carrollton fumble on the 31-yard line and managed to recover, the Wolves were able to solidify their lead. No. 12 Ashton Daniels threw a 7-yard pass to No. 33 Nate Norys in the end zone, and a third successful kick by Mata saw Buford’s lead grow to 21-6.
The fourth quarter was characterized by strong defensive performances on both sides. With each team’s defense seemingly adapting to the other’s offense, the final quarter remained scoreless, and the game finished 21-6 in Buford’s favor.
The Wolves rushed a total of 223 yards in 35 attempts with an average of 6.4 yards per rush, a relatively low statistic compared to their previous two playoff games.
The Buford defense put up a solid performance with one sack and one fumble recovered in addition to holding the Trojans to 6 points and no touchdowns.
“This was a hard fought game against a really physical and well-coached team,” Appling said. “I’m proud of how our kids, even when we didn’t have our best night, were able to grind it out and play Buford football for four quarters.”
The Wolves, now 13-1 this season, will face Langston Hughes High School in the state championship at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta.
Optimistic about the final, Appling said, “We have a great challenge ahead of us in Langston Hughes, but all we can control is our preparation in the week to come and our kids are ready.”
FEATURED PHOTO: Buford’s Tobi Olawole looks to catch a long pass against Carrollton in the semifinals of the AAAAAA State Playoffs on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Tom Riden Stadium. Buford won 21-6.