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Buford's Green Machine steamrolls Gainesville 49-0
7 Wolves share the TD load in rout of Red Elephants
Buford's Nathan Staub, top, and Paris Head take down Gainesville quarterback Deshuan Watson Friday during Friday night's game at Buford High School. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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Georgia scores

Difference maker: Buford's defense. It held Gainesville's offense to only 69 rushing yards.

Stat that matters: The Wolves had seven different players reach the end zone.

Turning point: Buford capitalized on a second-quarter interception by Nathan Staub with a six-play, 71-yard scoring drive to push its lead to 21-0.

Who's next: Gainesville hosts to White County at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while Buford hosts Carver-Columbus.

The way Buford's football team approaches things offensively is to be as slow and methodical as possible. It has worked the past four seasons with the Class AA state title, and it worked again on Friday with a win to the tune of 49-0 against Gainesville in Buford.

Just like in its season opener against Blessed Trinity on Aug. 19, the Wolves (2-0) ground out huge rushing numbers with their big stable of running backs and used the passing game just to switch things up.

Buford had 14 different backs carry the ball for 360 yards. Last week, the Wolves had 17 backs carry for 277 yards.

"We're all veterans on this team and know what we're doing now," said Wolves senior running Andre Johnson. "We're just going to line up and hit the other team right in the mouth."

Johnson was one of five different running backs for Buford, ranked in No. 1 in Class AA, to find the end zone, and seven in total to score a touchdown. Tight ends Kurt Freitag, a senior, and junior Mikey Bart had touchdown catches for the Wolves.

"Our thing on both sides of the ball is to go full speed on every play," senior tight end Kurt Freitag said. "Everyone on our team is buying in."

And the Wolves' defense is just as powerful. They've outscored the opposition 89-0 after just two weeks this season.

"As a defensive guy, a goose egg is a lot of fun," Buford coach Jess Simpson said.

The only drawback to Buford's night was a load of penalties with 14 for 125 yards in all. Simpson says those are things that they'll clean up.

"We still have a lot of room to grow, but that's OK," Simpson said. "It's only Aug. 26 and not Nov. 1."

The Red Elephants' (0-1) best drive in the first half got all the way down to the Buford 14 before it stalled out on consecutive penalties. Then in the third quarter and the ball on the Wolves' 4, the drive ended when Buford defensive back Ryan Dillard intercepted a Deshaun Watson pass in the end zone.

While Gainesville coach Bruce Miller wasn't pleased by the final score, he didn't fault his team's effort. Gainesville's biggest pitfall was allowing Buford a short field in the first half, which led to touchdowns on three of its first four drives. The Wolves started with a short scoring drive on their opening possession with first down at the Gainesville 30, after the Red Elephants punted on third down near the goal line.

"I knew for us to beat Buford it would take a near perfect night for us, and a bad night on their part," Miller said. "I don't know if it would have been much different if it had been the University of Georgia out here against them."

Watson kept the ball moving on a number of drives for Gainesville and finished with 92 passing yards and 46 rushing, but threw two critical interceptions.

The Wolves found their best success running between the tackles, led by senior Vadal Alexander on the left side. After missing on some passing attempts early in the game, the Wolves went almost exclusively to the ground game after the first quarter.

Leading 7-0 after the first quarter, Buford started to chip away with big gains on the ground. Starting the drive at its own 26, the Wolves raced down the field with a 29-yard run from Johnson, 13-yard run by Nathan Staub and scored on a 21-yard run by senior Rick Legrant.

Johnson led Buford rushing with 12 carries for 102 yards. Darrian Smith was second on the team with 13 carries for 81 yards.

Then right before halftime, Thomas Wilson returned a punt down to the Gainesville 10 setting up a first-and-goal. Three plays later Freitag scored on a pass from Sam Clay in the back of the end zone.

The other passing touchdown for the Wolves came in the third quarter when tight end Mikey Bart caught a pass at the 20, ran through a couple defenders and tiptoed along the sideline and into the end zone.

The Red Elephants were limited to only 69 rushing yards.

"I know we're going to learn from this game," Miller said. "The biggest improvement you can make is between the first and second game."

Buford plays host to Carver-Columbus at 7:30 next Friday, and Gainesville plays host to White County at City Park.

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