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State playoffs: Buford faces Lovett in Class AA title game
Wolves dominate Fighting Irish 48-0
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ATLANTA — Buford fullback Tyler King put his team’s game plan for its Class AA semifinal game against Dublin in the simplest of terms afterwards.

"We knew we had to hit them in the mouth," the senior said, figuratively of course.

But Class AA’s No. 1-ranked Wolves didn’t just stop with hitting the Fighting Irish once.

King ran over people, senior tailback Demetris Murray ran past people and Buford’s defense ran through people.

The Wolves ran straight through the Georgia Dome at full speed on their way to the Class AA state championship game, beating Dublin 48-0.

"There is not much you can say bad about that game," Buford coach Jess Simpson said.

The Wolves will play Class AA No. 9-ranked, and the No. 2 seed out of 6-AA, Lovett for the state title at Buford at 6 p.m. next Saturday. Lovett beat Cook 29-16 Saturday.

Both teams are from Region 6-AA and the Wolves beat Lovett 21-0 in their final game of the regular season.

After Saturday’s win, combined with their win over Charlton County last week, the Wolves have ousted both defending state co-champions.

"I was confident that last Friday would be good for us, but I was a little scared that the guys might settle," Simpson said. "I wondered if we would get back and locked in. Our guys did a great job of realizing that we had not achieved our goals."

Walking back to their make-shift locker room in the bowels of the venue, the Wolves looked more like a team that had just won a ho-hum midseason game than a team that just clinched an opportunity to play for a state championship.

A few jokes were cracked and hands were shaken with plenty of smiles, but the jumping and cheering some might expect was absent.

"Everyone was feeling good," senior linebacker T.J. Pridemore said. "But for us, it is one step at a time. … We are usually a calm and quiet team."

Buford won three straight state championships between 2001 and 2003 (one in Class A and two in Class AA), but have not won a title since. The seniors on this year’s roster were freshman the last time the Wolves played in the Georgia Dome.

Even as confident as the undefeated Wolves were coming into the game, no one expected to win by such a large margin.

"We definitely didn’t expect that," Buford quarterback Twoey Hosch said. "No one really expected to come out and do what we did."

King, who had a career game in Saturday’s win, wanted to make it clear early that the Wolves were not going to settle for just another trip to Atlanta.

"We knew we had to hit them fast, and that’s what we did," King said. "We jumped on them. We had to knock them down and keep them down."

King led the team with three touchdowns, all three coming in the second quarter. He didn’t have a run for over 12 yards, but all of his yards were earned the hard way, breaking through multiple tackles.

"There was one touchdown where I thought I was down," he said. "I was like ‘Alright, I’m going down.’ But I didn’t. … Just keep going no matter what."

King’s runs were just small samples of Buford’s entire morning. Even when the game was all but over, the Wolves just kept on running.

Buford piled up 300 yards of offense, most of which came in the first half and on the ground. The Wolves only punted once.

King finished the game with 30 yards on five carries. The Wolves’ versatile running game was led by Murray, who scored Buford’s first two touchdowns and finished the day with 77 yards on 10 carries.

"Lots of credit goes to our offensive line and the job that they do," Simpson said. "On both sides of the ball, our guys up front set the tone. Those guys played super for us."

Buford’s domination of Dublin was as impressive, if not more so, on defense.

The Wolves held the Fighting Irish to 109 yards of offense and forced three turnovers. The hard hits Buford consistently laid on Dublin often caught the breath of the crowd.

Pridemore set the tone early for Buford, sacking Dublin quarterback Rashard Smith for a loss of eight yards. It would be the first of five Buford sacks for the game.

"With big guys like that going both ways, eventually the dam is going to break," Pridemore said. "Eventually, they are going to slow down. You’ve just got to make sure you’ve got enough determination to make it to the fourth quarter."

Dublin never got inside of Buford’s 20-yard line. Dublin’s only promising offensive drive, stretching to the Buford 21-yard line, ended in an interception by Murray.

In the third quarter, junior Cody Getz picked off Smith and returned it for Buford’s only touchdown of the quarter.

"Our defense gave them absolutely nothing," Hosch said.

Buford’s coach was so pleased with his team’s performance that he had almost forgotten about the 5 a.m. wake-up call earlier in the morning.

"That might be the best all three phases have played together," an exhausted Simpson said. "I’m fine right now but in about an hour it will hit me."

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