T.D. Roof is best known for his play at linebacker, but the Buford senior did much more than that on Friday night.
Roof, who doubles as a fullback, converted three fourth downs with runs, the final one for a 59-yard touchdown to help the No. 1-ranked Wolves defeat No. 5 Kell 28-16 at Tom Riden Stadium.
The decisive score came on fourth-and-1 at the Buford 41. Roof took a handoff and headed left. He picked up the first down, then spun out of a tackle and broke free for the long score to give Buford a 21-10 lead. He earlier scored on a 4-yard run and finished with 107 yards on eight carries.
“My linemen and fullback got a block and I made a little spin and it was green grass and I just took it,” Roof said. “I got hawked down one time this season and I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.”
Kell gamely fought back and drove for a touchdown, with Jared Hill catching a 5-yard touchdown pass from John Lampley with 3:22 remaining.
The Longhorns decided to go for a two-point conversion to make it a field goal game. They made it, but the point was negated by a penalty. The second try was negated by offsetting penalties. On the third attempt, Lampley rolled to his left before he was caught from behind by Roof.
Now needing two touchdowns, Kell had to try for an outside kickoff. The ball bounced straight into the arms of Roof, who fielded the ball cleanly for Buford.
“In the right place at the right time,” Roof said.
Christian Turner broke free for a 53-yard run on the first play and scored two plays later on a 3-yard run to ice the game.
Turner ran for 120 yards on 22 carries and Anthony Grant rushed 13 times for 60 yards.
Kell’s Lampley completed 8-for-19 for 88 yards and rushed for 35 yards. Josiah Futral carried 11 times for 52 yards.
Buford a (13-1) advances to the state championship game for the 15th time in the last 17 seasons. It will mark the ninth straight year to play for the title. Buford has won 11 state championships, the most recent in 2014. The Wolves lost to Cartersville in the final last year.
“It means everything,” Roof said. “Three-hundred and sixty-five days of bad taste in our mouths since we lost. It means everything getting back.”
Kell (11-3) again fell just short of reaching the championship game. The Longhorns, who also reached the semifinals in 2013, have won nine or more games in seven consecutive seasons.
Kell took advantage of Buford’s poor special teams to score its points in the first half.
Kell’s Ben Olson returned a punt 45 yards to the Buford 16, but the Wolves dug in and limited the Longhorns to a 27-yard field goal from Connor Mendelson.
Buford took over from there and controlled the ball on the ground. The Wolves scored on a 13-play drive, all running plays, with Anthony Grant scoring on a 15-yard run.
After forcing Kell to punt, the Wolves drove 80 yards in 15 plays, 13 of them runs, and overcame a holding penalty to score on T.D. Roof’s 4-yard run and take a 14-3 lead.
Buford got the ball back with 2:09 left in the half but opted to punt on fourth-and-1 at its 31. The snap was high and the punt went out of bounds at the 27. Kell scored on the next play when John Lampley fired a 27-yard touchdown pass to Josh Blancato with 25 seconds remaining and cut the deficit to 14-10 at the half.