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BUFORD — Dontravious Wilson ran for three touchdowns, Buford returned two interceptions for scores and ran a punt back for another as the Wolves beat West Hall 61-0 on an emotional night Friday at Tom Riden Stadium.
Hearts were heavy all over the city. A day earlier Devin Durden, a former Buford standout, died after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle crash Sept. 26. That tragedy followed one from 17 days earlier when Buford basketball player Adam Smith died three days after he collapsed during conditioning.
“It’s been a really tough week,” Buford senior running back Dontravious Wilson said. “We’ve tried to stay focused and go hard in practice to help ourselves and the community. This is a loving community and something special to be a part of. We all needed each other this week.”
Smith’s No. 10 and Durden’s No. 46 were marked and highlighted on the football field Friday in tribute.
“Hopefully for everyone involved (Friday night), it was a two-hour distraction,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said.
“Obviously it doesn’t change anything. The sun is going to come up and things will be the same. But it’s great for our community to come out and support these kids.”
There were plenty of happy moments for No. 4 Buford (4-1, 2-0 Region 7-AAA). The Wolves amassed 472 yards while the defense limited West Hall (2-4, 1-2) to just 113 yards.
Wilson ran for 202 yards on just 10 carries including his longest run of 84 yards early in the second half for his third score of the night. Tre’ Neal and Ryan Coleman each had long interception returns for touchdowns in the opening part of the third quarter, and Zavior Hoxie added an 8-yard touchdown run in the latter portion of the period.
In all, Buford ran just five plays but scored 35 points in the third quarter.
“We felt like we needed to come out flying around and play with energy,” said tight end/linebacker Korie Rogers, who caught a 7-yard touchdown from Montgomery VanGorder in the quarter. “Our coaches made some crazy adjustments in the second quarter to take away some of their short passes over the middle. It definitely helped and led to two interceptions.”
Wilson set the tone early. Heeding the Buford coaches’ strategy to start quickly, he scored on first-half runs of 27 and 32 yards. The first came on the first play after Bryson Jordan intercepted a West Hall pass and returned it 7 yards.
Wilson struck again just 2:31 later after West Hall gave the Wolves a short field following a punt.
“We knew (West Hall) was big up front,” Wilson said. “We talked last week about playing with an edge and playing hard. Our line did that with a great job blocking and opening holes. They pretty much dominated.”
The back-breaker came from Thomas Wilson, who returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown with 2:49 left in the first half.
“We’re improving, which is exciting,” Simpson said. “This team has done a great job of playing smart, being disciplined and not making foolish mistakes. We ended up pressuring their quarterback and got a couple of tips. We were lucky to get the shutout.”
After it started the season 2-2, West Hall couldn’t get its offense going Friday. Isiah Rowe ran for 66 yards on 16 carries, and Keith McCroan caught three passes for 38 yards.
Just being on the field was enough to help Buford players deal with the emotions of tragic three weeks.
“It’s been crazy,” Rogers said. “The whole community is hurting. We haven’t had the chance to show Buford support on our home field. We wanted to give the people a chance to get their minds off things.”