The No. 3 Buford High football used its time-tested formula of dominating the line of scrimmage to beat Jackson-Atlanta 48-0 Friday night at Tom Riden Stadium, clinching the program’s 18th straight second-round playoff victory.
The top-seeded Wolves (10-1) didn’t waste any time taking control of the game, rushing for 200 yards in the first half en route to 339 overall and scoring on four of their first five possessions.
Running backs Anthony Grant (13 carries, 134 yards and three touchdowns), Derrian Brown (15 carries, 95 yards and one touchdown) and Christian Turner (11 carries, 83 yards) each took turns running roughshod over a Jaguars (9-3) defense that had entered the game allowing just 12.3 points per game (eighth-best in Class 5A).
“Just a great team win,” Buford coach John Ford said. “Our offensive line did a great job blocking, our wide receivers did a great job blocking downfield and our backs ran hard.”
The Wolves will face fellow No. 1 seed Stockbridge next Friday with a trip to the semifinals on the line. Buford will be the visiting team after the universal quarterfinal coin toss performed by the GHSA came up tails, indicating the team on the lower side of the bracket will host if opponents have similar seeds.
Jackson had allowed just 13 points combined in its last five games, with three of those being shutouts. The Wolves met that total late in the first quarter after an 11-yard run up the middle by Grant capped a 10-play, 58-yard drive.
Buford marched 71 yards for its first score, which came after Turner’s 13-yard gain on third and 5. Senior defensive back Demontre Bennett set up another score with an interception at the Jaguars’ 7-yard line, and the Wolves went ahead 27-0 when senior receiver Tyler Gillis caught a fade in the back of the end zone.
The Buford offensive line of Reece McIntyre, Riley Simonds, Austin Blake, Harry Miller and Logan Kesler plowed through a Jackson defensive front as the team’s trio of backs essentially ran right up the middle on simple draws and delays for most of its yards.
That effort by the Wolves’ offensive line also allowed freshman quarterback Aaron McLaughlin to pick apart the Jaguars’ secondary via play-action as he completed 7 of 14 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, sprinkling the ball to five different receivers.
Not to be outdone, Buford’s defense shut down a big-play Jackson offense that had been averaging seven yards per carry and 17 yards per completion entering the game. The Wolves allowed just 81 total yards (45 rushing, 36 passing) on 40 plays and forced seven Jaguars turnovers. Senior linebacker Isaiah Shepard had an interception and fumble recovery for Buford.
The Wolves’ stifling performance came after they allowed more than 300 total yards of offense and 23 points in their first-round win last week.
“Our defensive coaches did a good job of gameplanning, the kids came out and executed and communicated with one another and played hard,” Ford said.