Buford coach Jess Simpson couldn’t deny it — his team’s home opener against Bishop Timon-St. Jude of Buffalo, N.Y., couldn’t have started any better.
It ended pretty well, too.
The Wolves’ swarming defense created a 21-point first quarter lead, and junior running back Anthony Grant scored the game’s final four touchdowns as Buford crushed the Tigers 49-6 on Friday night at Tom Riden Stadium.
“It’s been a long two weeks for coaches and kids,” Simpson said after his team had a bye week to stew on its season-opening loss to 7A power Roswell on Aug. 19. “To come out here and get a win is fun, to play is a lot of kids is fun. To feel like you’ve gotten a little bit better kind of starts a process.”
Buford (1-1) forced three-and-outs on Timon’s first three possessions, all of which ended in disaster for the Tigers.
The Wolves got the ball on Timon’s 5-yard line thanks to a high snap on the first fourth down, which sophomore running back Derrian Brown quickly turned into a 5-yard scoring plunge.
The Tigers (0-1) then failed to convert a fourth down on their next drive, setting up a methodical 28-yard Buford touchdown drive capped by senior TD Roof’s 3-yard touchdown dive.
Timon elected to punt following its next three-and-out, only to have it blocked and recovered by junior Lunden Bailey in the end zone. There was a negative side to the quick start, Simpson said: The offense struggled to get in a rhythm simply because it wasn’t on the field much.
The Tigers responded with an 18-play, 88-yard scoring drive that took more than nine minutes off the clock. Junior quarterback Matt Myers, who twice escaped pressure to make nifty plays in critical situations but was sacked five times, capped the possession with a hard-earned, 1-yard touchdown. But four Buford penalties aided Timon on its only scoring drive of the night.
“Outside of one series, I thought we played really good defense,” Simpson said. “We had a couple pass interferences that kept the one drive alive, and we couldn’t get off the field.”
After going nearly 11 minutes without touching the ball, the Wolves struck back in a hurry. Grant scored twice in the final minutes of the second quarter, first on a 31-yard wheel route and then on a 69-yard scamper.
Grant picked up right where he left off after halftime, converting a fourth-and-2 before ripping off a 32-yard touchdown run.
“Anthony is a special young player who’s really talented,” Simpson said. “He’s growing up. He has matured a lot.”
Buford then sent in most of its reserves, and the game got sloppy from there. An errant snap derailed a promising drive just outside the red zone, Myers threw an interception and senior fullback Zac Myers fumbled while trying to muscle his way into the end zone.
The Wolves leaned on Timon the rest of the way using a combination of Brown, who finished with 82 yards of his own, and Grant. The junior capped his four-touchdown performance by steamrolling a Tiger defender at the goal line.
Buford racked up 284 rushing yards, while its defense that was in the backfield on almost every play limited Timon to just 103 offensive yards.
Grant finished with 207 total yards on only 12 touches for a remarkable 17.3 yards per touch.
“Preparation,” Grant said with a grin. “We’ve been working so hard in practice.”
It showed Friday night.
The Wolves entertain another out-of-state foe when Jefferson Davis of Alabama visits Sept. 16.