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Buford clinches region title, tops Westminster 29-7

Stiff defense, sharp running game send No. 1 Wolves back to state playoffs

POSTED: November 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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ATLANTA -- There's still another week of high school football left to play, but the Buford High football team already has a reason to celebrate.

The Wolves (9-0, 6-0) clinched the Region 6-AA title with a 29-7 win against Westminster on Friday at Alfred E. Thompson Stadium in Atlanta. With the win, they are guaranteed the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage in the state tournament in two weeks.

The region title is Buford's eighth in a row dating back to 2001. Since that span, the Wolves are 98-4 overall, with only one loss coming in the regular season.

"This is a special win for us this week," Wolves head coach Jess Simpson said. "We're playing in what I think is the toughest region we've played in this decade."

While Buford has one game left to play against Greater Atlanta Christian next Friday, the outcome won't affect where they are seeded in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Westminster (7-2, 4-2) needs a win against Blessed Trinity next Friday to keep the second seed and homefield advantage at state.

"I think all the top teams in our region will have a chance to advance (in the playoffs)," Simpson said. "Unfortunately, someone will have to go home."

The Wolves relied primarily on their rushing game, led by running backs Cody Getz and Storm Johnson. They combined for 157 yards and three touchdowns on the night.

Meanwhile, the massive Buford defense kept Westminster from earning a single yard on the ground. Instead, the Wildcats were forced to pass the ball, where they had more success, completing 12-of-19 passes for 134 yards and their only touchdown.

Westminster did get some help from eight Buford penalties, five of them in the second half.

"We have to be a little bit better in the red zone, and we will be," Simpson said. "We have to go out there and do things better."

Westminster opened the game with an onside kick recovery, but was unable to take advantage of its opportunity.

Instead, the first quarter became a battle of defenses, with no score until Buford kicker Daniel Villafuerte hit a 42-yard field goal with one minute left in the quarter. Villafuerte hit three field goals in the game, the others from 32 and 36 yards.

The Wolves' defense became the catalyst on the next drive. On its own 19-yard line, Westminster fumbled on the ball on a pass attempt, which was recovered by Buford's Andrew Sachais, who scampered to the Wildcats' 5-yard line.

Getz finished the drive for the Wolves for a 10-point lead.

Westminster scored its first points of the night when quarterback Tom Moak connected with Stephon Shelton, who darted up the field for a 68-yard touchdown and put the Wildcats within three points. Moak accounted for all of the Wildcats' offense on the night, all in the air.

Buford added to its lead on Getz's second touchdown of the game, this time from 5 yards out, to give the Wolves a 16-7 lead at halftime. Getz finished the game with 73 yards on 16 carries.

Villafuerte accounted for Buford's only scoring in the third quarter and their first tally in the fourth quarter, while the Wolves' defense continued to keep Westminster from making plays. The Wildcats only earned two first downs in the second half and only five in the game.

Buford scored the final points of the night with two minutes left in the fourth quarter when Johnson scored on an 8-yard run. Johnson finished as the Wolves' leading rusher with 84 yards on 17 carries.

Buford looks to finish a perfect regular season when it plays host to Greater Atlanta Christian at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Tom Riden Stadium.



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