BUFORD — Garrett Scoggins lobbied his coaches to give him the same chance they gave fellow offensive lineman Dean Powell a few weeks ago.
Buford coach Jess Simpson granted his request Friday night, calling a tackle-eligible screen for the senior. Scoggins made the most of the opportunity and scored from 1 yard out, putting the finishing touch on the Wolves’ 49-13 romp against Region 8-AAAAA foe Flowery Branch on senior night at Tom Riden Stadium.
“This week we just really focused on these seniors,” Simpson said. “We tried to communicate to them how much we love, respect and appreciate them. ... To have an experience and a memory to be made like (Scoggins’) is pretty neat.”
Buford’s offensive lineman watched on of their own score after opening up holes for their teammates all night. Junior running back Anthony Grant (102 yards, four total touchdowns) led the way in a 304-yard rushing performance for the Wolves (9-1, 6-0).
It ended the Falcons’ season, which would have continued into the playoffs had Cedar Shoals defeated Walnut Grove. Flowery Branch coach Chris Griffin said he couldn’t yet evaluate his team’s season as a whole, but he offered a succinct summary of its final game.
“We did some good things at times, and obviously missed some opportunities,” Griffin said. “I was proud of the kids’ effort, their desire, no matter who the opponent is to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
While the Falcons will miss the playoffs, Buford heads into the postseason on a nine-game winning streak and the No. 1 seed in its bracket.
“I think we’ve played really, really well in spurts over this past month,” Simpson said. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s ugly or pretty or how you do it. It’s just about getting the ‘W’ one week at a time right now.”
Buford opened the game by suffering a breakdown on third-and-14. Flowery Branch senior quarterback Kory Graham dodged a tackler, reversed field and raced 76 yards before getting caught from behind at the goal line.
The Falcons (3-7, 2-4) scored three plays later, with Graham catching a 3-yard touchdown from junior quarterback Myles Janess on a trick play. Buford blocked to extra point to make it 6-0.
The Wolves gained just one first down on their opening possession before punting, which hushed the home crowd and sent Flowery Branch fans to their feet. The underdogs’ jubilation was short-lived — junior defensive back Mikey McMorris picked off a pass deep in Falcons’ territory, setting up senior quarterback Mic Roof’s 13-yard scoring pass to Grant.
“We kind of got going (after the interception),” Simpson said.
Flowery Branch picked up just one more first down in the opening half as Buford pulled away thanks to its trademark, multi-headed running game.
The Wolves’ third possession spanned 70 yards and ended with junior running back Christian Turner’s 10-yard touchdown run. Grant scored from 8 yards out following an interception by sophomore defensive back Jamaal Singleton, adding a 23-yard scoring scamper less than four minutes later.
“That’s probably the third or fourth time we’ve been down early in a game this year,” Simpson said. “There’s no hesitation or wondering about these guys (coming back).”
Buford picked up where it left off in the second half, marching 10 plays before Grant punched it in on the goal line. After a Falcons three-and-out, sophomore running back Derrian Brown sprinted for a 73-yard touchdown to give his team a commanding 42-6 lead.
Senior defensive lineman Tyreque Legrant blocked a Flowery Branch punt minutes later, giving the Wolves possession at the Falcons’ 1-yard line. That’s when Scoggins scored to end Buford’s big night.
“We were on the 1-yard line, probably going to score anyway,” Simpson said. “That was a lot of fun for those kids and those linemen.”
Graham notched a 9-yard rushing touchdown a minute into the fourth quarter — which featured a running clock — as the final score of Flowery Branch’s season. Later on, Wolves sophomore defensive back Austin Turner picked off a pass in the end zone to wrap it up.