1122curryAUDBuford fullback Jessel Curry discuss the Wolves' win against North Oconee on Friday.
1122simpsonAUDBuford coach Jess Simpson discusses the Wolves' 44-7 win against North Oconee on Friday.
BUFORD -- The driving force that pushed the Buford High football team through last year's playoffs en route to a state championship seems to be back again.
The Wolves cruised into the 2008 Class AA state quarterfinals with a second-round, 44-7 win over North Oconee on Friday night at Tom Riden Stadium.
Buford (12-0) outgained North Oconee both passing and rushing, and finished the night with 274 yards in a game that featured the Wolves' varsity starters for only a half after they ran up a 37-0 lead at intermission.
"Our confidence is growing and that's good news," Buford coach Jess Simpson said. "This is three games in a row that we've come out and done some really good things at all phases."
Buford will play in its ninth straight quarterfinal game dating back to 2000. The Wolves have won every game in that round.
Where they will play is still up in the air against Dublin, also a No. 1-seeded team. The home team will be decided by a coin flip today at a neutral location.
"We meet up, trade tape, and then flip a coin," Simpson said.
Like their previous playoff win, a 56-21 victory over Heard County last week, Buford didn't waste time putting the game away early. It scored on all six of its drives in the first half, led by a two-touchdown, 92-yard passing performance from Michael May that punished the North Oconee (9-3) secondary.
"We threw and caught the bell well," Simpson said. "We haven't had a dry night in five or six weeks, so it was a little bit easier (to pass)."
The Buford rushing game still continued to have the season-long success it has enjoyed, especially from junior Storm Johnson, who rushed for 82 yards on 11 carries. He needs 51 more yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
The Wolves were also merciless on defense, limiting North Oconee to 157 total yards. The Titans managed to gain 101 yards rushing, but struggled to connect on deep throws, gaining only 54 yards on six passes.
"The defense got three-and-out, a short kick, then the offense punched it in," Simpson said. "We started fast and it rolled, and it was a lot of fun tonight."
Buford started very fast, in fact, scoring only three minutes into the game on a 4-yard touchdown run by Cody Getz. Like Johnson, the senior is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards on the season, and needs 120 more to reach the mark.
The Wolves struggled on their next drive, but made up for it with a smart gamble on special teams.
When they lined up to punt at their 38-yard line, Sterling Bell jumped in front of the snap and turned the fake punt into a 62-yard touchdown, giving Buford an early 13-0 lead.
"My coaches saw something all week, and we had a chance to run it," Simpson said. "We just said ‘what the heck, let's try it and see.' And it worked."
The Wolves cruised from there, scoring twice on passes from May. He connected with Colt Ours from 17 yards, then Jessel Curry from 29 yards for a 27-0 lead early in the second quarter.
After a 2-yard rushing touchdown from Curry and a Daniel Villafuerte field goal, the Wolves entered the locker room with a 37-0 lead at halftime.
The second half started the same the first, with Buford scoring on its first drive. In his final carry of the night, Johnson scampered through a maze of Titan defenders before darting into the end zone for a 29-yard rushing touchdown.
North Oconee scored its only points on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Sean Zornig to Kevin Burris. Burris caught five of six Titan passes for 44 yards.