Buford High’s football team continued its drive toward another region championship with a calm, almost effortless 58-0 victory over Cross Keys. The top-ranked Wolves (9-0, 7-0 Region 6-AA) scored on their first six offensive possessions while limiting the Indians (0-8, 0-6) to 5 yards of total offense while registering three interceptions — one for a touchdown — and a safety. As hard as it might have been at times, Buford tried not to look ahead to a showdown with Lovett in two weeks for the region championship. Winning that game would give the Wolves their seventh consecutive championship.
Friday’s victory also sealed a first-round home game in the Class AA playoffs.
"We never once talked about who we were playing Friday night," said Buford coach Jess Simpson, who improved to 33-2 as the school’s head coach. "I have a strong team of seniors who are mature and know how to handle situations. And they handled this one great."
Poor Cross Keys was out-matched from the start. Heading into the game, Buford had out-scored opponents 386-46 in eight games while the Indians allowed 334 points and scored just 33.
Cross Keys dressed just 21 players Friday, not even enough for two full units. Three of Buford’s first five plays resulted in touchdowns, and that was just in the first 7:52 of the game. Twoey Hosch threw for a pair of touchdowns, and ran for another, while Dennis Murry scored twice by the time 11:28 had elapsed. Tyler King sacked Cross Keys quarterback Richard Feacher in the end zone for a safety in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
Buford added another pair of touchdowns on a 48-yard pass from Hosch to Kody Case and King’s 54-yard run. Lawson McGlon’s extra points put the Wolves up 44-0 at the half.
"Our coaches told us to stay humble and not let our egos get the best of us," Hosch said. "We wanted to keep it simple, and everyone knew we could run the ball whenever we wanted. There were some things we wanted to work on in the passing game. Last week, we had a couple of breakdowns and miscommunications on blocking. It’s always nice to work on it in real time instead of just doing it at practice."
Defensively, Buford held the Indians to minus-17 yards of offense in the first half with two interceptions. Josh Rudnik picked off Feacher to set up Hosch’s scoring run, and Jake McCroskey ended Cross Keys’ final scoring drive of the opening half with an interception.
Shane Swanson returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Storm Johnson scored on a 31-yard run in the period as well.
Special teams also had a good night with Cody Getz returning three punts for a total of 62 yards.
"As long as we don’t beat ourselves, we believe we can beat any team," said linebacker T.J. Pridemore. "They had a formation (six-wide on the right) that we had only seen once on film but knew what to do with it." Things weren’t all rosey. Buford committed six penalties for 65 yards. One holding call negated what would have been a touchdown on Rudnik’s interception. Another brought a 49-yard Getz punt return back, and two pass interference calls put the Indians down to Buford’s 31 before an incomplete pass and a 13-yard loss.
Still, Simpson said that had nothing to do with lack of focus and labeled his team ready for Lovett in two weeks.
"When you’re beating someone like that and things get out of hand, that’s going to go on for some reason," Simpson said. "We came in with three great days of practice, and Monday may have been our best of the season. That’s how you have to approach these weeks. Lovett’s a great team. They’re much-improved on defense and they’re playing well offensively, too. Playing down there for the region championship on a Friday night will be a big deal."
Winning, certainly, would be even bigger.
Buford 58, Cross Keys 0
Cross Keys 0 0 0 0 — 0
Buford 30 14 0 14 — 58
BHS - Murray 23 pass from Hosch (McGlon kick)
BHS - Harris 7 pass from Hosch (McGlon kick)
BHS - Murray 41 run (McGlon kick)
BHS - Hosch 22 run (McGlon kick)
BHS - King tackle Feacher in end zone
BHS - Case 48 pass from Hosch (McGlon kick)
BHS - King 54 run (McGlon kick)
BHS - Johnson 31 run (McGlon kick)
BHS - S. Swanson 40 int return (McGlon kick)
First downs 4 2
Rushes-yards 22-5 8-170
Passing yards 0 140
Comp.-Att-Int 2-16-3 7-9-0
Total yards 5 310
Punts-avg. 5-24.8 0-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-20 6-65
Rushing: Cross Keys, Feacher 15-14, Irvin 4-0, Gelahon 3-(-9). Buford, King, 1-54, Murray 1-41, Johnson 2-36, Hosch 1-22, Vining 1-17, King 1-7, May 1-(-7).
Passing: Cross Keys, Feacher 2-16-3. Buford, Hosch 5-7-0, May 2-2-0.
Receiving: Cross Keys, Clopton 1-7, Gelahon 1-(-7). Buford, Case 1-48, McBryant 1-23, Murray 1-23, Davis 1-21, Reed 1-9, J. Swanson 1-9, Harris 1-7.