Faced with its biggest challenge since the season opener, Class AAAAA No. 1 Buford responded with perhaps is best effort of the year.
The Wolves ran for 312 yards and threw for 95 yards, then limited No. 10 Loganville to 84 yards of total offense – minus-2 rushing – in a convincing 35-10 win on Friday at Tom Riden Stadium.
The win gives Buford (8-1) the Region 8-AAAAA championship. Loganville (7-2) will finish as the second seed from the region.
“It seemed like outside one third-down play in the second quarter when we let a guy get loose on a tunnel screen, we were lights out and I’m tickled to death with how we played on defense,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said.
“We played super on offense, as well. We were physical and that’s a good football team. I think they have a really good defense and I think they’re going to do something in the playoffs. We consistently moved the ball.”
The Buford offense powered its way to 313 yards on the ground, with Anthony Grant rushing 30 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns and Christian Turner rushing 17 times or 110 yards and one touchdown.
The Wolves were equally effective in the air. Quarterback Mic Roof completed his first nine passes and finished 9-for-10 for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
“We ran it, we threw it. I bet we checked a bunch of plays,” Simpson said. “Mic just managed the game great tonight. I thought it may be have been one of the best game he’s played at Buford. He played lights out.”
On defense, Buford defensive back K.J. Anderson intercepted two passes and broke up two others. The front kept pressure on Loganville quarterback Cameron Perkins-McLeod and stuffed the run. Buford didn’t get a sack, but had six tackles for loss.
“That’s a credit to our defensive coaches,” Anderson said. “They put us in the right position to make those plays. I just made the plays.”
Perkins-McLeod completed 8 of 21 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown.
Buford drove to the 17 on its first possession before a high snap sailed over Roof’s head and was recovered by Loganville’s Shy Kim.
The Wolves forced a three-and-out and started a 13-play 97-yard touchdown drive. Buford survived a fumble (Jake Simpson with the fortuitous recovery) and converted a fourth-and-10 when Roof found K.J. Johnson to pick up the first down. Grant scored on the next play, a 16-yard run, with 1:28 left in the quarter.
“It set a tone, knowing we could run the ball and put it back on the defense to see if we could get off the field and give the offense another chance,” coach Simpson said.
Buford got the ball back when K.J. Anderson intercepted a passed that bounced off a helmet before he snared it. Six plays later the Wolves cashed in on a 2-yard run by Grant that made it 14-0 with 7:45 left in the half.
Loganville finally broke through on its next possession. Cameron Perkins-McLeod hit Kim over the middle and the receiver was able to somehow change direction and outrun the Buford defenders into the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown.
The Red Devils tacked on a field goal after running a trick punt return. Loganville had all its blockers run to the left side of the field, when the punt was actually on the right side. Rhett Mixon fielded the ball on the 25 and ran nearly untouched to the 9. Loganville settled for a 34-yard field goal by Josh Moore.
Buford responded by driving 60 yards for a touchdown to go up 21-10 at the half. Roof, who was a perfect 7-for-7 in the first half, threw to Derrian Brown for a 9-yard touchdown.
The Wolves scored again on their first possession of the second half, a 66-yard drive that was culminated by an 18-yard pass from Roof to Jake Simpson.
Buford’s final score came in the fourth period on a 32-yard run by Turner.