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Buford blasts Trojans 42-14 to finish 10-0 regular season

North Hall to open state playoffs on road at Ringgold

POSTED: November 9, 2013 2:34 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

North Hall's Brannon Dyer, right, carries the ball for the Trojans as Buford High's Korie Rogers tries to bring him down by his jersey Friday during the first half of the Trojans' loss to the Wolves at The Brickyard.

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North Hall came into Friday night’s game with chance to emerge as Region 7-AAA champs. But with a 42-14 win, top-ranked Buford showed why it’s considered by many to be the frontrunner not only for the region, but for a second-straight state title as well.

With its usual display of brute offensive efficiency and fast, physical defense, the Wolves (10-0, 7-0) raced to a 35-0 lead and cruised from there to secure the No. 1 seed entering the postseason next week. They’ll host the No. 4 seed from Region 5-AAA (Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe/Sonoraville winner).

North Hall (8-2, 5-2) will inherit the No. 3 seed and will travel to Ringgold, 5-AAA’s No. 2 seed.

“Obviously, the first half, I didn’t expect to be able to overwhelm them,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “Defensively, other than one drive when we gave up a couple of first downs, we were just locked in. That is a tough offense to prepare for, they’ve got great personnel to run it, and they are extremely well-coached.”

Indeed, the Trojans entered the game averaging 46 points per game, but running lanes were rare against a Buford defense that hasn’t given up more than 14 points in a game since the first round of last year’s playoffs. And when holes did appear for North Hall, they were most often closed quickly and violently.

The game was all but decided by halftime, as Buford built its five-touchdown lead by rushing 19 times for 213 yards and holding North Hall’s potent wishbone offensive to 40 yards on 28 carries.

After the teams exchanged fumbles on their opening possessions, quarterback Mack VanGorder started the scoring for Buford. He rolled to his right, looking for a receiver downfield, before tucking the ball and dashing 44 yards to paydirt.

Xavier Gantt added a 2-yard touchdown before the first quarter was over, and Thomas Wilson scored twice — on runs of 22 yards and 1 yard, respectively —in the first six minutes of the second quarter.

Buford’s co-starter at quarterback, Taylor Mitchell, finished the first-half scoring with a 13-yard toss to Cameron Poole just 18 seconds before the half.

“I thought our execution was very poor,” North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. “I think maybe we just a little too keyed up for this game.

“But I asked our guys to fight for 48 minutes, and I think they did that.”

The Trojans showed fight in the second half, scoring the game’s final 14 points. Sparked by a successful fake punt, North Hall crossed the 50-yard line for the first time when Zac Little broke loose on a 53-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

Andrew Smith later added the Trojans’ second score on a 2-yard run with four minutes remaining in the game.

“In the second half, I thought we started executing a little better, and our kids kept playing hard,” Christmas said. “At halftime, the game was a little bit out of reach, and I told the kids that the only thing they had left was to play for 48 minutes. And I thought they took that and kept battling and I’m really proud of them for that.”

Joshua Thomas led Buford with a game-high 101 rushing yards on eight carries, including a 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Wilson added 84 yards on seven carries, as 10 Wolves contributed to a 319-yard outing. The Wolves have now won 20 straight games, dating back to a pair of GHSA-mandated forfeits early last fall.

Little led North Hall, which finished with 161 rushing yards, with 89 yards on 17 carries.



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