THOMSON – Buford entered the electric atmosphere of The Brickyard with a businesslike approach, and it left with its latest playoff rout.
The Wolves controlled all phases of the game to shut down Thomson 49-7 on Friday night in the Class AAAA quarterfinals.
Buford will next host Woodward Academy at Tom Riden Stadium in Buford in next week's state semifinal.
Thomson reached the third round for the first time since 2012 and was vying for its first semifinal appearance since 2002, but the Bulldogs left as Buford’s latest victim.
The Wolves, who have won seven state titles in the past eight seasons, including three in a row, pitched their fourth consecutive shutout on defense, as Thomson’s lone touchdown came on special teams. They’ve outscored opponents 596-82 this season.
“They’ve played some great ball, really the last eight weeks,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “They love playing. We’ve been great against the run.”
Thomson’s potent offense was held to just 114 yards through the air and on the ground. The Bulldogs punted eight times and were held to eight first downs.
“It’s tough right now,” Thomson coach Rob Ridings said. “We didn’t get the job done. We struggled at stopping them, we struggled at blocking them, and we struggled all night. We just couldn’t muster anything.”
Thomson’s Rashad Sturgis completed six passes for 60 yards and ran for 23. Michael Thomas rushed 20 times for 31 yards as the Bulldogs were again without star running back Billy Mance, who continued to sit with a deep thigh bruise.
Buford’s Christian Turner ran 10 times for 183 yards and one touchdown. He broke runs of 70, 52 and 47 yards, the longest producing his touchdown. Four other running backs combined for 166 yards and five touchdowns as the Wolves mainly kept the ball on the ground and between the tackles.
Buford (12-1) took a simple approach with easy handoffs and short routes, but it produced 35 first-half points. After holding a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Wolves broke it open with three touchdowns in the second.
Thomson (11-2) scored its lone touchdown in the third when Bubba Murray returned a blocked punt 26 yards for a touchdown.
After going 4-7 last season, the Bulldogs bounced back in a big way this year with their highest win total since 2012, including a Region 3-AAAA title.
“We’ve come a long way, there’s no doubt,” Ridings said. “I don’t think anyone envisioned us being in the quarterfinals. I thought our guys fought hard all night and all season.”