Buford overcame an early 10-point deficit with 41 unanswered points in the second and third quarters and rolled to a 48-17 victory over Hillgrove in the second game of the Corky Kell Classic doubleheader Friday at Georgia State Stadium.
The Wolves used two big plays from the kickoff-return teams to swing the momentum in a first half in which Hillgrove had an advantage in offense but not on the scoreboard. Those two plays – a 68-yard kickoff return by Derrian Brown and a fumble recovery by Jack Scroggs on a kickoff to the Hawks – helped Buford go into halftime with a 17-17 tie. It was all Wolves the rest of the way.
The game marked a successful debut for Ford as Buford coach. Ford was hired to replace Jess Simpson, who compiled a record of 164-12 in 12 seasons at Buford before leaving to take a job on the Atlanta Falcons’ staff. Ford was 40-12 in four seasons at Roswell, including 28-2 the past two seasons with consecutive trips to the state finals.
Buford trailed 10-0 late in the first quarter when Brown’s return set up the Wolves at the Hillgrove 14. Chris Turner scored on the next play to cut the lead to 10-7.
After Hillgrove restored the lead to 17-7, Buford answered with a 30-yard field goal by Hayden Olsen and then got the ball right back when Scroggs recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Hillgrove 20. The Wolves scored four plays later on a 6-yard run by freshman quarterback Aaron McLaughlin to tie the game 17-17.
Hillgrove led in total offense 238-82 in the first quarter but was held to just seven offensive plays in the second quarter and seven more in the third as the Wolves pulled away. Buford finished with a 457-328 advantage in total offense.
Buford got third-quarter touchdowns on a 24-yard pass from McLaughlin to Tyler Gillis, a 40-yard run by Turner and a 59-yard run by Anthony Grant.
The Wolves spread the work around in the running game. Turner ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Grant finished with 90 yards and a score on 10 carries, and Brown rushed for 77 yards on 10 carries. McLaughlin was 14-for-24 passing for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 28 yards and a score.
Hillgrove’s Trevor Smith rushed for 105 yards and had a 48-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that made it 17-7. He ran for 89 yards in the first quarter but had just five carries the rest of the night as the Hawks fell behind. Quarterback Hunter Arters was 11-of-21 passing for 119 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Hillgrove – 17-0-0-0 – 17
Buford – 7-10-24-7 – 48
H – Louis Garcia-Cano 22 field goal
H – Jonathan Elder 1 pass from Hunter Arters (Garcia-Cano kick)
B – Chris Turner 14 run (Hayden Olsen kick)
H – Trevor Smith 48 run (Garcia-Cano kick)
B – Olsen 30 field goal
B – Aaron McLaughlin 6 run (Olsen kick)
B – Tyler Gillis 24 pass from McLaughlin (Olsen kick)
B – Turner 40 run (Olsen kick)
B – Olsen 29 field goal
B – Anthony Grant 59 run (Olsen kick)
B – Gillis 1 pass from McLaughlin (Olsen kick)