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Buford back in state championship game
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With two of the top three teams in Class AA playing, you would expect a thriller.

The Fitzgerald Purple Hurricanes and the Buford High Wolves did not disappoint in the Class AA football semifinals Friday night at Fitzgerald’s Jaycee Stadium.

On a late touchdown, the Wolves ended Fitzgerald’s season with a 38-28 win. The Wolves will now play for their third straight state championship Friday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Buford (13-1) faces Calhoun in the state title game for the second consecutive season.

Down 31-28 with 5:11 left to play, Fitzgerald’s Latravious Stewart fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Buford’s Andrew Swope on the Fitzgerald 32.

Buford took the ball over and faced a fourth-and-3 at the Fitzgerald 25.

Buford quarterback Alex Ross broke loose on an 11-yard run to put the ball at the 14.

Then Buford fullback Jessel Curry picked up 13 on a run down to the Fitzgerald 1.

Two plays later, Buford sealed the win when Curry scored on a run from the 1.

Early in the game, Buford got off to a quick start. Ross was 3 for 4 for 66 yards on Buford’s first drive.

The final pass on the drive was a 16-yard touchdown strike to Curry to take a 7-0 lead with 9:36 left in the first quarter.
Fitzgerald (13-1) quickly answered.

The Purple Hurricanes drove nine plays and 68 yards to tie the score. The touchdown came on a 1-yard plunge by Trenton Pruitt with 6:28 left in the opening quarter.

Stewart had the big play on Fitzgerald’s touchdown drive, an 11-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play.

Buoyed by a chop block penalty against Buford, the Hurricane defense held and forced a Buford punt on its next drive.

On the Hurricanes’ first play from their own 44, Stewart broke out a 27-yard run. A personal foul penalty on Buford put the ball on the Wolves 15. Two plays later, Kaleb Nobles connected with Stephon Smalls for a 14-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-7 lead with 3:56 remaining in the first quarter.

The Wolves drove down the field on their next possession, going 11 plays and 53 yards for the touchdown. The score came on a 1-yard run by Curry. David Petroni initially missed the point after, but Fitzgerald was called for offsides. Petroni then hit the point after, tying the score, 14-14, with 10:09 left in the half.

Seon Jones had the big play in the scoring drive for Buford. He went two yards on a fourth-and-1.

Fitzgerald’s offense faced its first tough test on its next possession.

Facing third-and-long situations twice early in the drive, Nobles hit Pruitt and Stewart on pass plays to keep the drive alive. However, Buford’s Ryan Dillard ended the drive when he intercepted a Nobles’ pass intended for Smalls.
Dillard returned the ball 31 yards to the Buford 32.

Three plays later, Ross hit Kurt Freitag for a 51-yard pass and Fitzgerald was called for roughing the passer, putting the ball at the Hurricane 5. Freitag was on the receiving end of a 5-yard pass to take a 21-17 lead late in the first half.
Fitzgerald drove down the field after the Buford score, using throws from Nobles to Steve Hughes and Pruitt as well as a key run by Nick Williams.

On third-and-1 from the Buford 21, Nobles was called for an illegal forward pass. That put the ball on the 26, and on a fourth-and-6 play, Gallegos’ 42-yard field goal attempt was short.

Even though Buford went into the half with a touchdown lead, it was basically an even game as evidenced by the total yardage which had both teams with 193 yards at the half.

A short kickoff by Fitzgerald gave the Wolves the ball on the Hurricane 47.

The Hurricanes appeared to have held as Buford faced a fourth-and-8 from the Fitzgerald 25. However, Ross avoided a heavy rush and hit Freitag for the touchdown with 8:04 left in the third quarter.

With the point after, Buford was back up 28-21.

Buford held Fitzgerald on the Hurricanes’ next possession and forced a punt.

That kick landed on the Buford 13.

It appeared that Fitzgerald had held, but Ross broke loose on a 45-yard run that put the ball on the Fitzgerald 35.
The run came on a 3rd-and-12 play from the Buford 20.

On the last play of the third quarter, Ross was sacked by Fitzgerald’s Khiry Gaskins for a 7-yard loss.

That gave Buford a 4th-and-10 from the 28. The Wolves went for it, but Fitzgerald’s Tevin Stewart-Gaulden knocked the ball away from intended Buford receiver.

The Buford drive did not end up with a score, but did take up a big chunk of the third quarter.

Fitzgerald took over on its 28 after the big play by Stewart-Gaulden.

The Hurricanes drove down the field on the legs of Stewart and Pruitt, as well as a 12-yard pass from Nobles to Davis.
Finally on 3rd-and-goal from the 1, Nobles went in on for the touchdown on the quarterback sneak. Gallegos’ point after made the score, 28-28, with 7:42 left in the game.

Buford quickly answered back.

On the Wolves’ second play from scrimmage following the Fitzgerald score, Ross hit wide receiver Sherman Page on a 55-yard pass play that put the ball down at the Hurricane 11. However, the Hurricanes held and forced a 27-yard field goal by Petroni with 5:23 left in the game.
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