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State champs: Buford back on top of Class AA

POSTED: December 27, 2007 5:02 a.m.

It wasn’t close. It wasn’t dramatic. And it certainly wasn’t suspenseful.

Buford crushed Lovett, 50-0, in the Class AA state title on Saturday night in a game that lacked any of the trademark signs of a state championship game.

To put it simply, Lovett never stood a chance.

Buford’s running game couldn’t be stopped, rolling up 425 yards, and the Wolves defense was too much for the Lions.

The Lions (12-3) only managed 67 yards on the ground, and most of that came in the fourth quarter against Buford’s back-ups.

Lovett was also hampered by poor special teams play after the punter took a knee on a first quarter punt, and Lions quarterback Johnathan Carkhuff was hurried into an interception that was returned down to the Wolves’ 20 by senior linebacker Jaytee Swanson, also in the openinging quarter.

Not even high winds, cold air or driving rains could put a damper on the mood of the Wolves after winning state.

After the game, the Wolves (15-0) huddled around coach Jess Simpson and celebrated their accomplishment. At the same time Buford senior lineman Omar Hunter was so caught up in the emotion of the moment he took a knee and covered his eyes for a moment of reflection.

"This is all I wanted right here," Hunter said. "This is the only thing we played for this season was the state title. This just feels great."

The Wolves earned this one and in the process left no room for speculation as to who the best the team in the state was.

The Buford seniors played all season not wanting to finish their careers without a state title in their name, after the Wolves won consecutive state championships in 2001, 2002 and 2003. This state title marks the fifth in the school history.

But nothing different should have been expected from a Buford team that finished the season with 678 points (46 points per game), just 4 points shy of the state record for points in a season (682 by Dublin in 2006).

Not to be overshadowed was Buford’s phenomenal defensive effort with its sixth shutout of the season. The Wolves didn’t allow a first down to Lovett until the final play of the third quarter.

"Winning the state title is so exciting," Buford senior linebacker T.J. Pridemore said. "This senior class I played with was just so special.

"The two highlights of my high school career are winning the state title tonight, and getting to play with my brother."

Buford finished the season in the same fashion they started the season after winning its games by an average of 42 points per game. It also marked the first state title in Simpson’s three-year tenure. In the each of the past two seasons the Wolves were ousted in the state quarterfinals. He now has a 39-2 record in his coaching career.

"The way I feel right now is ecstatic," Simpson said. "The commitment from these seniors for four years was amazing, and they came out here and played great."

Buford senior tailback Demetris Murray set the tone for the night against Lovett after consecutive runs of 12, 29 and 32 yards on the opening drive of the game. He finished the game with 15 carries for 211 yards and a 14-yard score in the third quarter. Tyler King finished with three touchdowns for Buford (1,4 and 17 yards).

"Winning the state championship means everything to me," Wolves senior tailback Demetris Murray said. "All week we heard Lovett talking, and we just came out and hit them square in the mouth and they just kind of laid down."

Four different Wolves scored touchdowns on the night. Buford quarterback Twoey Hosch scored on a 12-yard run with a nice block on the goal line from Murray, and Cody Getz scored on a 40-yard reverse play halfway through the third quarter.

King finished the game with 76 yards for the Wolves, and Getz had 52.

Even when the Wolves weren’t trying to score late in the game, they did. After Lovett’s quarterback was hit at the goal line, Buford lineman Andy Kellogg fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

"This was certainly a special football team this season," Simpson. "They worked very hard and earned this state title."



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