On Senior Night at East Hall Stadium, Buford did what it does best: run the football and play suffocating defense.
The Wolves (6-3, 4-2 Region 7-AAA) effectively used both aspects of their game on their way to rolling to victory over the East Hall Vikings 49-6 on Friday night.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Vikings (4-5, 2-4) only had one play from scrimmage before Thomas Wilson picked off Zach Groover. The interception gave the Wolves first-and-10 at the East Hall 21, but the Vikings stood their ground.
East Hall senior Cody Andrews on third down forced the Wolves into attempting a 43-yard field goal, which would sail wide left.
On their next offensive possession, Zavior Hoxie finished a six-play drive, following his offensive linemen into the end zone from the 1-yard line at the 5:56 mark in the first quarter.
“I give all of my credit to my line and the guys around me,” Hoxie said. “They are the ones that got us going tonight so my team deserves all the credit.”
East Hall started its next drive at the 20, but on a third-and-19, Donte Gordon recovered a Viking fumble in the end zone for the Wolves’ second score of the night.
Buford’s longest play from scrimmage came from Wilson, as he was able to make his way up the middle to the second level of the East Hall defense.
Wilson then used his speed to run 79 yards down the left sideline. The score and the extra point put the Wolves up 21-0 with 11:45 left to play before halftime.
Wilson finished the night as the game’s leading rusher with 101 yards on three carries and a touchdown, all in the first half.
Buford’s rushing leader this season, Dontravious Wilson, who had 857 yards and 12 touchdowns coming into tonight’s contest, gained only 8 yards on two carries.
He did not play in the second half, as he spent it out of uniform and on crutches. No official word was released on his injury.
Seven minutes later, Issac Nauta put Buford up another six points on a 4-yard reception from Taylor Mitchell.
The Wolves scored twice in the third quarter on two 26-yard plays. The first was a run from Quinn Davis. The second was a pass from Montgomery VanGorder placed beautifully to Hoxie in the back of the end zone.
“It was a great throw from (VanGorder),” Hoxie said. “He put the ball right where it needed to be and I just caught it.”
“Zavior (Hoxie) does all kind of good stuff out there.” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “Some of the balls he has caught this year have been unbelievable.”
Though the game saw a running clock for the fourth quarter, the Vikings did not give up their fight as they avoided becoming Buford’s fourth shutout this season.
Quay Jarrells brought a little life to East Hall fans, as he scored his team’s only touchdown of the night with 5:56 left in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings were able to also surpass the Wolves’ averages of defensive rushing and total yards allowed by more than 25 yards.
“Our kids are competitors and played great against one of the best teams in the state,” East Hall coach Bryan Gray said. “
“The seniors are some of the strongest character young men you could ever know, and I am proud of them. Next week, we will have to focus and play every play like we did tonight.”
“We have keep preparing and working hard.” Hoxie said. “We already practice like we are in the playoffs.”
Hoxie noted that with such a talented team, the Wolves have the opportunity to play top talent every day in practice. “Practices are intense, full of high-effort, with a lot of speed.”
“We never play perfect,” Simpson said. “When we go back and look at film, we will realize we did not play as well as we think we did right now.”
When asked about next week and their ensuing playoff run Simpson responded, “We have to get guys well first of all and approach every week the same. It’s all about us.”
Buford hosts North Hall, and East Hall is on the road against Fannin County.