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Buford powers past Cook, 21-14

POSTED: November 26, 2010 11:42 p.m.

Cook County at Buford

Prep football coverage from Friday, Nov. 26, 2010: Cook County at Buford.

Sara Guevara/The Times

Cook players gang up on Buford's Andre Johnson on Friday during the Class AA state quarterfinals at Tom Riden Stadium.

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BUFORD — Led by a new name, Buford is up to the same old game.

Wolves running back Dominique Swope — a senior transfer who last season played for Sequoyah — rushed for a game-high 64 yards, scored a key fourth quarter touchdown, and secured the win with a fourth-down conversion in the final minute as Buford edged Cook 21-14 Friday night in the Class AA quarterfinals at Tom Riden Stadium.

The three-time defending state champion Wolves (12-1) will play in the semifinals for the fourth straight year. It’s their ninth appearance in the last 11 years. The No. 1 seed from Region 6, Buford will play host to region foe and No. 4 seed Lovett (10-3) next Friday.

The Wolves beat Lovett 37-14 Sept. 24 at Buford.

For Cook (12-1) it was the end of an inspiring season in which the Hornets matched the second-longest season win streak in school history and overcame the tragic and sudden death of coach Mac Thompson, who passed away shortly after the 2009 season, which also ended in a loss at Buford in the quarterfinals.

The Wolves dominated Cook 26-0 last year. This game was much different, but Swope made sure the outcome was the same.

“My coaches were saying to push hard and the line was going to do the rest,” said Swope, who had 18 carries. “So, that’s all we did — push hard, ran hard — basically.”

With the Wolves leading by the game’s final margin, they faced a fourth-and-1 on the Hornets’ 38 with 1:15 remaining. Wolves coach Jess Simpson said he considered punting to the Hornets, who had no timeouts remaining.

“I think I was the only guy on the sideline who considered punting,” Simpson said. “But that’s my job. I didn’t (get talked into it), but I was convinced. My kids were begging me, and my coaches wanted to run the football.

“To play for a championship, if you can’t make a yard, then you know what, maybe you don’t deserve it.”

To get the first down, Buford turned to its workhorse Swope, who delivered by leaping over the pile and landing on the other side for a 4-yard gain. The Wolves took a knee for the win.

“I knew we had it,” Swope said.

Cook’s final possession began on its own 4 with 3:06 remaining. After two incompletions, senior running back Trey Register took a handoff, ran to the right and threw a pass down field to a streaking, wide-open Davontae Brown, but the pass was overthrown by just a few feet.

“Our kids believe they can score from anywhere on the field and we had a chance,” Hornets coach Ken Cofer said. “We had a wide open receiver, we just didn’t hit it, and it’s a heart-breaking thing.”

Instead of risking a turnover on downs — Cook was 0-for-3 on fourth down conversions for the game — the Hornets punted to their own 48 with 2:22 remaining and one time out, but never saw the ball again.

The Buford defense had a lot to do with the decision to punt, limiting an offense that came into the game averaging 36 points a game to just 44 rushing yards and 140 total.

“Our defense played lights out tonight,” Simpson said. “I’m tickled to death, because (Cook’s offense) is unbelievable and they have a lot of playmakers. So to give up just a touchdown, that’s big for us.”

Register scored the Hornets’ lone offensive touchdown on a 1-yard run with 8:32 remaining, bringing the score to 21-14. Cook’s other score came on Shannon Brown’s 50-yard interception return with two minutes remaining in the half.

Brown’s pick made it a 7-7 game heading into halftime.

Eric Barr’s 6-yard run with 3:25 left in the third gave the Wolves a 14-7 lead and Swope’s 8-yard run on their next possession five seconds into the fourth quarter gave them all the cushion they would need.

The Wolves will now face a Lions team that handed Buford its only loss in 2009. But Lovett lost to Calhoun in the state semifinals and the Wolves beat the Yellow Jackets in the championship for the second year in a row.

Lovett beat Brooks County 35-18 on Friday in Quitman to advance to the semifinals.

“We’re playing a region opponent and having to beat someone for the second time is always hard,” Simpson said. “But we’re going to try.”

Kurt Freitag scored on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Alex Ross in the first quarter and led the Wolves with 35 yards on three catches. Ross was 10-for-13 passing for 103 yards. Seon Jones rushed for 63 yards on 13 carries.

Register led the Hornets with 48 rushing yards on nine carries, quarterback Zach Folsom completed 13 of his 26 passes for 103 yards and threw an interception and Clifford Pettiford had a team-high 34 receiving yards on one catch.


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