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Buford rides on, blasts Woodward Academy 40-7

Wolves to face Carver-Columbus in quarterfinals; coin flip to settle site

POSTED: November 22, 2013 11:02 p.m.
NAT GURLEY/The Times

Buford running back Xavier Gantt is tackled on a run against Woodward Academy during Friday night's Class AAA state playoff game.

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BUFORD — Thomas Wilson scored two touchdowns in just over a minute and Tyler Winslow returned a blocked punt 14 yards as the Buford Wolves blew open what was a close second-round playoff matchup against Woodward Academy on Friday night at Tom Riden Stadium to win 40-7.

The Wolves’ three-touchdown swing at the end of the first half propelled them to a 14th straight appearance in the state quarterfinals. Buford will face Carver-Columbus next Friday night; a coin flip will decide the site of the game.

“We finished with a fury,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said, of the end of the first half.

After putting together a 78-yard touchdown drive on its first possession, which ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Mitchell to Isaac Nauta, the Buford offense struggled in the first half.

Luckily, the Buford defense was in form for the entire game.

The Wolves knocked out Woodward quarterback Terry Googer, a South Carolina commit, in the first quarter and limited the War Eagle offense to 222 yards on the night, 50 on their only touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter.

“Googer was our main focus coming into the game,” said Wilson, who also serves as a starter in Buford’s secondary. “We knew he was a great player.”

The defensive performance was typical Buford this season. After all, the Wolves entered the game allowing an average of just 5.9 points per game.

“This has been a great practice team all year,” Simpson said. “That was as focused as I’ve seen them all year, starting on Monday morning. They were locked in. We played a really quality team, an opponent with some great players. Obviously, in the (first) quarter, them losing their quarterback hurt them.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence and they’re playing together. That’s what’s fun to watch.”

The Wolves’ offense got into form in the second half after Simpson said he challenged the unit at halftime. The motivational talk worked, as the Wolves scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter.

They ended up finishing the game with 307 yards of total offense, led by Wilson’s 147 yards rushing on eight carries.

“The offensive line did a great job blocking,” Wilson said. “They get all the credit.”

After leading just 7-0 for the majority of the first half, Wilson’s 43-yard touchdown run with 2:20 left in the second quarter gave Buford a 14-0 lead.

It was a run that had the Buford coaches in mesmerized.

“I couldn’t see it, but (the coaches in the booth) said he made a cut and accelerated,” Simpson said. “I can’t wait to see it on film. They said it was a great run.”

Two Woodward offensive plays later, Wilson scooped up a fumble that bounced off several Buford teammates and returned it 22 yards for the score. The Wolves’ two-point conversion attempt failed.

Simpson strategically used his timeouts on Woodward’s ensuing drive, forcing the War Eagles to punt the football deep in their own territory.

The decision paid off when Avery Turner flew through the center of the line and blocked the punt. Winslow scooped up the ball and coasted into the end zone for the 14-yard score.

“We had two timeouts left and then (Woodward coach John Hunt) helped us out there on first down. I guess they had the wrong personnel and he called one,” Simpson said.

“So we got into a situation where we could use our two (timeouts) and force a punt and got the block. Little Avery Turner, we’ve been thinking he was going to get one and he got it.”

Wilson scored his third touchdown of the night just two plays into the second half, breaking away from the defense for a 76-yard touchdown that made the score 33-0.

Buford scored on its following possession when Donte’ Gordon smashed into the end zone for a 3-yard score.

Woodward scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter when third-string quarterback Mack Green connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass with freshman Joshua Johnson.



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