Wolves 28, Spartans 0
Difference maker: Buford’s defense. Greater Atlanta Christian could only muster 26 rushing yards against the Wolves.
Stat that matters: The Spartans only crossed into Buford territory for three offensive plays the entire game.
Turning point: Leading 14-0 late in the first quarter, Buford’s Andre Johnson cut outside with a burst of speed and scored on a run from the 10.
Who’s next: Buford visits the Region 6B-AA champion in the region championship game on Nov. 4.Difference maker: Buford’s defense. Greater Atlanta Christian could only muster 26 rushing yards against the Wolves.
BUFORD — If Buford continues to play defense like it did Friday against No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian, then winning its fifth consecutive Class AA state title is just a formality.
The top-ranked Wolves (9-0, 3-0 Region 6A-AAA) allowed only 26 rushing yards, even less than its season average of 43, and had great secondary play to shut down an athletic Spartans (7-1, 2-1) passing game and cruised to a 28-0 win at Tom Riden Stadium.
The win extended Buford’s region winning streak to 20 games.
“We were lights out on defense,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “We were just running to the football all night and I couldn’t be more proud.”
The win secured the subregion title for the Wolves and a spot in the region title game on Nov. 4 at the home field of the Region 6B-AA subregion champion. However, winning subregion titles are just a minor steppingstone for a program that has a single focus of making it back to the Georgia Dome in December for the state championship game.
The star of the night for Buford on defense was Ryan Dillard, who provided two big pass breakups. Greater Atlanta Christian could only compile 60 yards passing, which was a big part of its game plan after falling behind 21-0 in the first half.
Dillard also provided a huge hit on a GAC pass completion when he shed a blocker at the line of scrimmage and tackled the receiver, cutting out what would have possibly been a big play.
“He’s probably the most physical cornerback we’ve had here at Buford,” Simpson said. “Not only is he a 4.0 (grade-point average) kid, but his football IQ is off the charts.”
When Greater Atlanta Christian did try to run the ball, the Wolves were swarming to the ball in a pack. Spartans quarterback Delano Spencer took a loss running the ball six times in the second half when he was unable to create anything with his legs.
Lavondre Nelson was the Spartans’ leading rusher with only 29 yards on 14 attempts.
Greater Atlanta Christian only crossed into Buford territory for one play in the first half when Jeremy McGriff caught a 20-yard pass from Spencer. However, two negative running plays that followed pushed the Spartans back into their own side of the field and brought an end to its drive.
“Our coaches stress for us to play fast and physical,” Dillard said. “We had a great week of practice and were able to carry it right over to the field.”
Also for Buford’s defense, senior Paris Head pulled down an interception in the first quarter. Spencer had an open receiver on the play, but threw a high pass that Head had time to circle underneath and come away with the interception.
Buford’s offense finished with 233 rushing yards, still below its season average, but enough to build a comfortable cushion. Wolves senior running back Andre Johnson paced a nine-play, 77-yard drive to open the game, and scored a touchdown on a run from the 7. He began the drive on the second play with a 38-yard run where he hit the corner and outran a couple of defenders before going down at the Spartans 31.
Leading 7-0, Johnson struck again with just 4:32 left to play in the opening quarter when he scored his second touchdown on a run from the 10.
Dontravious Wilson, a junior, started the drive with a run straight up the middle of the line of scrimmage for a gain of 19, followed by C.J. Moore’s run for 11. Johnson scored on the third play of the drive.
Johnson was Buford’s leading rusher with 10 carries for 79 yards.
Nathan Staub added a score on a 9-yard run for Buford late in the second quarter, then Wilson scored on a run from the 6 with 2:36 left to play in the game.
With the win, Buford now has a 12-game winning streak against Greater Atlanta Christian dating back to 1999.