Friday night was just another day at the office for the Buford offense as it amassed 471 total yards on the way to a 56-26 win over Jones County in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
The Wolves (11-1) will host Carrollton, who defeated Thomas County Central 41-14, next Friday at Tom Riden Stadium in the state quarterfinals.
Buford marched up and down the field on the legs of three main running backs: Christian Turner, Anthony Grant and TD Roof. Derrian Brown came in to score the final touchdown of the game with five minutes remaining in the contest.
Turner said the running backs were able to feed off what the offensive line was doing. Wolves coach Jess Simpson agreed and gave all credit to the offensive line. Overall, Simpson was proud of his team all around.
“I thought it was a complete performance,” Simpson said. “The fourth quarter got a little sloppy with the running clock, but I could care less about that. This time of year, it’s survive and advance. I was so pleased with how we played in all three phases tonight.”
At the half, the Wolves had outgained the Greyhounds (7-5) 290-78 in total yards.
Even still, things seemed to fall apart for Jones County after the break.
The Greyhounds received the kickoff out of the intermission, but quarterback Bradley Hunnicutt was sacked and Roof forced him to fumble. The Wolves recovered.
Roof scored an 11-yard run on the ensuing drive.
On the kick, Jones County fumbled and Buford jumped on top of it.
Turner scored the third of his four touchdowns on the three-play, 34-yard drive to push the score to 42-6. Turner carried the ball on all three plays of the drive.
The Greyhounds had a seven-play drive that stalled out at the Buford 32. When the Wolves took over, there was an odd play that turned the ball back over to Jones County.
Wolves quarterback Mic Roof (8 of 13, 131 yards, touchdown, interception) was looking for Jake Simpson near the home sideline. The ball was thrown low and bounced off of Simpson’s shoe and straight up into the air. The defender in coverage snagged the ball and took off, getting down to the Buford 3 before a block in the back brought it back to the 15.
“The craziest thing was that the ball hit our kid on the foot and bounced straight up in the air,” Jess Simpson said with a smile. “We could watch a lot of football and I don’t know if I’d see that again.”
Hunnicutt (10 of 23, 122 yards, three touchdowns) found Nick Singleton two plays later for the touchdown.
Turner, who led the Wolves with 109 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries, scored on runs of 3, 1, 3 and 21 yards.
His longest and final of the night came with 53 seconds remaining in the third quarter, putting Buford up 49-12.
Turner said he and Grant try to compete with each other, which drives them to be their best, but they also trust each other.
“We both compete against each other,” Turner said. “I trust him out on the field, he trusts me, so whoever’s out there, we just make the most of it.”
The Greyhounds went on a 10-play drive where Hunnicutt found Drae Butts for the receiver’s second touchdown of the game.
Brown scored two plays later — carrying the first for 3 yards — on a 76-yard scamper as he just outran everyone on the field to the end zone.
Turner said he and Grant try to help Brown as much as possible to be successful on the field because they’ve been where he is now.
“He’s coming up. We take him under our wing,” Turner said. “We try to teach him, talk to him a little bit. He’s in the same situation we were in last year when we had X (Xavier Gantt) and Martin (Mangram) over us.”
Singleton scored the final points of the game on a 2-yard run with 1:55 left to play.
Grant (20 carries, 107 yards, touchdown) scored his lone touchdown of the game within three minutes of the opening whistle as Buford opened with a seven-play, 62-yard drive. Grant capped the drive with an 8-yard score.
Mic Roof threw his touchdown pass, connecting with Tanner Alexander (three receptions, 48 yards, touchdown) on a 21-yard play, just 20 seconds before halftime to take a 28-6 lead into the break.
Jess Simpson said his team is playing is playing with confidence, but that’s a fragile thing, and his team, at this point in the year, is “just one bad 40 minutes away from being done.” Turner understands they need to keep things rolling.
“We’ve just got to keep doing it week by week, as the coaches say,” Turner said. “If we keep playing like we do now, we’ll be good.
“I’m excited for it. We’re excited we get one more week. That’s the thing, we get one more week to play and we have to make the best of it.”