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Buford jumps out early, beats North Hall 35-7
Turnovers, injuries hamper Trojans in loss to top-ranked Wolves
Buford's Eric Barr, left, celebrates with teammate Jamal English after Barr's return of an interception for a touchdown during the first quarter of Friday night's game at The Brickyard.


Buford coach Jess Simpson talks about his team's win Friday at North Hall.

Buford High’s football team isn’t one that needs to rely on any kind of trick plays. It can hammer away behind an offensive line led by a handful of athletic 300-pounders.

So it caught everyone by surprise, especially the North Hall defense, when on a reverse play, Buford’s Tyshawn Holley made one player miss in the backfield and ran for 50 yards early in the third quarter Friday night at The Brickyard.

That play was big after Wolves (2-0) fullback Jessel Curry scored from the 1 two plays later, extending their lead to three touchdowns en route to a 35-7 win.

“That was big because we didn’t want to come out complacent in the second half,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “We know North Hall has a great team and they battled us hard all the way to the end.”

This win gives Class AA’s top-ranked Wolves a chance to extend its regular season winning streak to 50 in the Region 6-AA opener next week at Lovett, a rematch of the 2007 state title game.

North Hall (1-1) knew it was going to have to play a near perfect game to topple Buford. So when the Trojans turned it over three times in the opening half, it became a much more difficult task. The Trojans lost a fumble on the second play of the game near midfield, wiping out a nice return on the opening kickoff from Shane Doster.

Most of the game, the Wolves tried to move the ball through a solid ground-control offense. After Buford tried to loosen up the Trojans’ defense with the run game, junior quarterback Alex Ross hit Sherman Page for a 44-yard score with 3:53 left in the opening quarter, giving Buford a 7-0 lead.

The Wolves scored again three plays later when Eric Barr intercepted a pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown.

All night, North Hall had to compensate for player injuries that kept starting running back Mack VanGorder and starting linebacker Ben Booth out of action. The Trojans also had a host of other players, including running back Peyton Wilhoite, that were hampered by nagging injuries.

Still, Trojans coach Bob Christmas was pleased that his team was able to stand up and play against the Wolves competitively most of the night.

“I’m very proud of this team because we’ve battled some adversity,” Christmas said. “We were able to go toe to toe with Buford.”

Trailing 21-0, the Trojans mounted their only scoring drive of the night due to the big plays running the ball from Robert Humphrey and Darian Roman. Humphrey had runs off 13 and 25 yards, setting up a 40-yard touchdown run by Roman.

Humphrey led the Trojans on the night with eight rushes for 66 yards. That drive accounted for more than half of North Hall’s 122 total rushing yards.

Buford’s ability to stop North Hall’s running game was enough to offset its 90 yards in penalties. Penalties have been one of the only glaring weaknesses for the Wolves this season after drawing 105 yards worth of first quarter penalties against Grovetown two weeks ago in their season opener.

“We have a lot of good, young players,” Simpson said. “But there were some mistakes.

“The thing I like is that it wasn’t just our No. 1s that played well tonight, but I was also tickled that our No. 2s and 3s also played well.”

The Wolves put the game away in the fourth quarter with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Darrian Smith scored on a run from the 5 with 11:03 left to play, followed by a touchdown run from the 3 by A.J. Cunningham with 2:14 left in the game.

Ryan Dilliard led Buford with nine carries for 77 yards. Ross was 10-for-20 passing for 152 yards for Buford. Page had five catches for 111 yards for Buford, including another pass that went for 33 yards.

North Hall quarterback Nathan Jones was 5-for-11 passing for 70 yards.

Buford visits Lovett at 7:30 p.m. next Friday in Atlanta. North Hall is off next Friday, then visits Gainesville on Sept. 18 at City Park.

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