BUFORD — On homecoming night in Buford, it was the special teams and defense that led the fourth ranked Buford Wolves (6-1, 4-0 7-AAA) to a 34-3 victory over the visiting Dawson County Tigers (4-3, 2-2 7-AAA).
The Buford defense held a explosive Dawson County attack to 196 total yards and three points. The Tiger offense crossed into Buford territory only three times all game.
It didn’t take long for Buford to get on the scoreboard. After forcing a punt on Dawson County first possession, Junior Thomas Wilson fielded the punt at his own 35-yard line. He sprinted to his right, breaking a couple of tackles along the way, finally outrunning the last defender for a 65-yard return that set the tone.
“We talk about winning the first five minutes of the game and winning the last five minutes of the half,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “If look at the start of the game, the end of the half, and the start of the third quarter, we were really dominant.”
Two more Dawson County punts were followed by Buford touchdowns. After the first punt, Buford took only five plays to add its second score. The big play was a 36-yard catch and throw from quarterback Taylor Mitchell to Jaylen Mize. Fullback Donte Gordon made the most of his only carry for the game scoring from 15 yards.
After another Dawson County punt, the Buford offense again took only five plays to score. Quarterback Montgomery VanGorder connected on a beautifully thrown fade pass to Tre’ Neal for 32 yards to make the score 21-0.
Buford’s Matthew Bonadies kicked two field goals in the second quarter from 37 and 30 yards to extend Buford’s lead heading into halftime.
In the second quarter Dawson County put together its best drive of the game getting as close to the Buford 17 yard line before settling for a 34-yard field goal from Max Muldoon.
“Credit to (Dawson County). They didn’t roll over,” Simpson said. “They forced two field goals out of us when we would have loved to have touchdowns.”
Running back Dontravious Wilson led the rushing attack with 138 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown, which came with 5:47 remaining in the third quarter. Quarterbacks, Mitchell and VanGorder, finished with a combined 7-for-11 and 125 passing yards and one passing touchdown.
Junior Korie Rogers contributed to the defensive effort with an interception and a sack. He also shed some light on part of the motivation for the Wolves’ defense.
“The game plan was to come out here and show them who we are. They beat our basketball team and our softball team so we were just looking to get back at them,” Rogers said.
Dawson County’s Tyler Dominy finished the night with 154 yards passing on 18 completions and added 42 rushing yards.
Buford remains tied atop the Region 7-AAA standings with North Hall and will take on Fannin County next Friday. Dawson County will look to rebound against White County in a crucial region matchup.