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Buford reaches state final for 6th straight year
Wolves get past Cartersville 21-10 behind stingy defense
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Buford remains Buford. 

In a season that began with a rise in classification and the replacement of nearly every starter from last year’s team, the Wolves are back in the state championship game for the sixth straight year.

And they got there in quintessential Buford fashion, stifling Cartersville’s explosive offense and pounding the Purple Hurricanes with the running game en route to a 21-10 victory Friday night.

The Wolves (11-3), who lost in the Class AA championship game last season, will face St. Pius X at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Georgia Dome for the Class AAA title.

Buford had to rally Friday night after Cartersville (13-1) built a 10-0 lead in the first half.

Using a no-huddle offense, the Canes marched from their 15-yard line to the Wolves’ 3-yard line before settling for a field goal with 7:39 left in the first quarter.

Cartersville extended its lead with a touchdown thanks to two key pass receptions by Kalin Health and two costly Buford penalties. The 66-yard drive was capped with a 15-yard scoring pass from Brooks Barden to Mark Quattlebaum with 5:38 remaining in the first half.

Then came the turning point in the game. In fact, the turning point in the season for both teams.

With Cartersville holding a 10-0 lead with a little more than three minutes remaining before halftime, Buford’s Korie Rogers intercepted Barden’s pass at the Canes’ 15-yard line.

After converting on fourth-and-1 at Cartersville’s 6-yard line, Dontravious Wilson silenced the Canes’ momentum with his touchdown run from 2 yards out. With Matthew Bonadies’ extra point, Buford trailed only 10-7 at halftime.

“We were still behind then, but Iknew we were beginning to wear them down,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “We made some adjustments, especially in the second half. The key though was stopping their running game and turning them into a one-dimensional team.”

Neither team could do much in the third quarter as Cartersville and Buford took turns punting the ball away.

“We came out strong in the second half,” Cartersville coach Frank Barden said. “We stopped them early on, and we went after them every chance we got.”

That is, until Buford’s second interception of the game at 1:31 of the third quarter.

The Wolves needed to go only 40 yards to take a 14-10 lead on Joshua Thomas’ 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter. After forcing Cartersville to punt on its next offensive possession, Buford solidified its sixth straight trip to the state finals on a 14-yard scoring pass from quarterback Montgomery VanGorder to Isaac Natau.

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