Buford 42, Worth County 0
Stat that matters: The Wolves held Worth County to 159 total offensive yards. Coming into the game, the Rams were averaging more than that just on the ground.
Turning point: Down 14-0 early in the second quarter, Rams’ running back Dontavious Buford took a handoff 55 yards to the house. But, the play was called back on a personal foul penalty. Already fighting the Buford defense, Worth County kept itself out of the end zone.
Game changer: Martin Mangram. Mangram’s night ended in the first half as Buford headed to the locker room up 21-0. At that point, the running back had 59 yards and two scores, which had the Wolves up 14-0 in the first quarter.
Up next: Buford will take on Thomson at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27. Location is still to be determined.
The Buford Wolves continued to roll Friday night as they defeated Worth County 42-0 in the second round of the football state playoffs.
The Wolves will face Thomson (11-1), who defeated Grady 44-21 Friday, in the quarterfinals next week. Simpson said he would meet Thomson coach Rob Ridings late Friday or early today in Athens for a coin flip to determine location of Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game.
Though Buford’s (11-1) offense put up a big number on the scoreboard, it was the defense stopping the Rams’ (8-4) running game that was key to the victory.
Worth County came in averaging 357 rushing yards per game, but Buford held the Rams to 142 yards on 30 carries. Worth had three rushers with more than 1,000 yards and a combined 40 touchdowns, but not one reached the end zone against Buford.
Justin Hope finished the game with 12 yards. Chris McDaniel had 44 and Dontavious Buford, who was averaging 101.6 per game, finished with 78.
“We really prepared,” Buford defensive back Martin Mangram said. “When we play wing-T teams, our coaches stay up here for hours. We practiced all their formations, all their reverses and counters. We knew what was coming. We just had to stay at home and it helped us play it better. All you do versus wing-T is assignments, assignments.”
Wolves’ coach Jess Simpson said the Rams had his attention coming into the contest.
“Those guys were averaging over 35 points per game,” Simpson said. “I told the kids (after the game) the score looks like it was easy. I know it wasn’t easy. They know it wasn’t easy. You can’t say enough about the defensive guys and their preparation.”
In the fourth quarter, Buford limited Worth County to just four plays, including a punt. Overall, the Rams ran a total of 39 plays, 30 on the ground.
Gerome Williams, the Worth County quarterback, completed 2 of 9 pass attempts for 17 yards and a third-quarter interception by Alan Bussoleti.
Running back Mangram powered the Wolves’ offense with seven carries for 59 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. From there, his night was done.
Buford led 21-0 at the break as receiver Brandon Marsh pulled in a one-handed grab from Mic Roof for a 14-yard score with 37 seconds before halftime.
Mangram scored on the Wolves’ first drive with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone less than two minutes into the game.
His second score came on Buford’s third drive, a 5-yard carry just 29 seconds before the end of the first quarter.
The Wolves needed just one offensive play in the third quarter to add to their lead. Christian Turner took a handoff 51 yards after a 5-yard penalty on Worth County moved the ball to Buford’s 49-yard line.
When it was said and done, nine different Wolves carried the ball and Mangram, Turner, Xavier Gantt and Anthony Grant all crossed the goal line.
Turner finished with five carries for a game-high 80 yards. Gantt followed closely with 74 yards on seven carries. Grant had nine carries for 63 yards.
In addition to a few big plays, Buford benefitted from great field position, with the average starting spot being its own 44-yard line. The worst starting point for the Wolves was their own 25-yard line. The best, the Rams’ 23.
“When we got (good field position), we kept it,” Simpson said. “Field position was big and that’s part of what we’re trying to do. This time of year, it’s not any different for us than anybody else. If you can get it, you’ve got to keep it. If you get somebody backed up, you can’t let them out.”