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Wolves do their thing, top Chestatee 54-7
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Wolves 54, War Eagles 7

Difference maker: Joshua Thomas. His rushing touchdowns were cool, calm and collected until he hit the corner. No member of the Chestatee secondary could touch him once his eyes were on the end zone.

Stat that matters: 5 touchdowns from 11 offensive first half plays. Buford’s offense spent very little time on the field in the first half, but it made every second count.

Turning point: Martin Mangram’s first play from scrimmage, a 7-yard dive up the middle for Buford’s first score, set the tone for an offensive clinic at War Eagle Stadium.

Who’s next: Chestatee travels to Madison County next week, while Buford hosts North Hall at Tom Riden Stadium.

At least it’s over.

Chestatee head coach Bill Forman said he’s more than happy to move on after watching the Buford Wolves put on an offensive clinic en route to a dominant 54-7 victory Friday night in front of a packed War Eagle Stadium.

Buford scored five touchdowns off of 11 plays from scrimmage in the first half to hand the War Eagles (1-4, 0-2 in Region 8-AAAA) their second region loss of the 2014 season.

Junior tailback Xavier Gantt racked up 131 yards from just six carries to score two touchdowns for the Wolves (5-0, 2-0 in Region 8-AAAA). Senior back Joshua Thomas reached the end zone twice in the first half.

Chestatee fans had something to celebrate when senior Marvin Rosario scampered down the sidelines on a 95-yard kickoff return. But the victory was all but sealed when third-string Wolves’ quarterback Mic Roof connected with Avery Turner from 48 yards out halfway through the fourth quarter.

“We just wanted to stay healthy and take our fair share of lumps,” Forman said after the game, with a wry smile. “I told them I was real proud of what they did and that there’s a lot of games left on our schedule.”

Buford’s offense was on the field for less than 10 seconds when Martin Mangram dove in from 7 yards out to score on the Wolves’ first possession, thanks to senior David Curry’s deft 30-yard punt return. A holding call pushed Buford back to its own 39 on the next drive. But Thomas (2 carries for 135 yards, 2 touchdowns) used his vision on the next play to find the corner and burn several Chestatee defenders on his way to the end zone from 61 yards out.

Gantt got in on the fun 52 seconds into the second quarter when he broke a tackle and ran untouched to score from 76 yards out.

It looked as if Buford quarterback Luke Humphrey had found Connor Mills on a 59-yard pass in the second quarter before an ineligible receiver penalty negated the catch. But Thomas’ second rushing touchdown, which included a superb juke move, gave Buford coach Jess Simpson a reason to smile.

“Our kids did a good job executing and doing what they were supposed to do,” he said. “You never really anticipate something like that happening, but those boys worked hard all week to get here. There are a lot of unselfish kids on this football team.”

Humphrey found Avery Turner (2 receptions, 59 yards, 2 touchdowns) on the right sideline for an 11-yard score to put Buford up 34-0 at halftime.

Rosario, a senior running back, was the one bright spark in Chestatee’s rough night. His 35-yard kickoff return to open the third quarter set up Chestatee on its 43-yard line, its best field position of the game.

But two failed runs and quarterback Logan Cates’ incompletion forced the War Eagles into their seventh straight punt.

It seemed like Buford could do no wrong when backup quarterback Brett Shepherd extended the lead to 48-0 after a 31-yard keeper on his second play of the game.

Yet Rosario controlled the ensuing kickoff, patiently waited for the right block to come and sprinted 95 yards down the near sideline for Chestatee’s lone touchdown of the game.

“I was just thinking, I’ve gotta make something of this,” Rosario said of his first touchdown of the season. “I saw the hole and I hit it. It felt real good to score.”

By the time Roof found Turner for the receiver’s second touchdown, and Buford’s eighth, Forman said he was already looking forward to what the rest of the region schedule has in store. Chestatee travels to play Madison County (3-2, 1-1 in Region 8-AAAA) next Friday.

“If we win four of the next five games, we’re probably in,” Forman said of his team’s playoff possibilities. “If we win the next five games, we’re definitely in. We’ve got to keep our focus and do the best we can these next five games.”

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