By David Purdum / For the AJC
Bad news for Class AAA – Defending champion Buford is bigger and better than ever. Just ask defending AAAAA champion Gainesville.
Buford physically dominated the top-ranked Red Elephants in a 38-14 rout on Friday at City Park Stadium.
The Wolves racked up more than 400 yards of offense, 344 coming on the ground. A bevy of talented backs enjoyed gaping holes opened by a mammoth offensive line.
Zavior Hoxie and Joshua Thomas ran for touchdowns, and Cameron Poole caught a touchdown pass from Taylor Mitchell to help Buford build a 24-7 lead at halftime. Thomas Wilson ran for two touchdowns in the second half to put game away, sending Buford to its 12 straight win. Five Buford backs had more than 35 yards rushing, led by Thomas, who finished with 137 yards.
The Wolves’ defense was equally impressive, frustrating Gainesville star quarterback Deshaun Watson with constant pressure up front and solid coverage in the secondary. Watson completed 22 of 38 passes for 195 yards.
Watson hooked up with Jay Gaudlock for a touchdown pass in the second quarter that cut the Buford lead to 17-7 and seemed to get the Red Elephants back in the game. But on Buford’s ensuing possession, Thomas broke off a 77-yard touchdown run to reclaim the momentum.
Gainesville would never get it back.
Buford forced two turnovers, made the Gainesville offense one-dimensional and then took aim at Watson. The Red Elephants had 68 yards rushing.
Shug Frazier, a 300-pound sophomore defensive tackle, was just one several Buford defenders to toss Watson on his back. Evyn Cooper picked off Watson in the first half, and Xavier Gantt recovered a fumble for Buford.
Gainesville averaged 41 points last season, but managed only until late in the fourth quarter, when backup quarterback Mikey Gonzalez threw a touchdown pass to Josh Holderfield with under two minutes to play.
Buford kicker Matthew Bonadies kicked a 47-yard field goal and was true on all five of his extra-point attempts.
The Wolves have won five of six over the Red Elephants.
Buford 10 14 7 7 — 38
Gainesville 0 7 0 7 — 14
B – Cameron Poole 11 pass from Taylor Mitchell (Matthew Bonadies kick)
B – Bonadies 47 field goal
B – Zavior Hoxie 2 run (Bonadies kick)
G – Jay Gaudlock 15 pass from Deshaun Watson (Gage Turner kick)
B – Joshua Thomas 77 run (Bonadies kick)
B – Thomas Wilson 3 run (Bonadies kick)
B – Wilson 1 run (Bonadies kick)
G – Josh Holderfield 26 pass from Mikey Gonzalez (Turner kick)