Gainesville’s high-powered, pass-happy offense was no match for Buford’s running game and stingy defense.
Buford ran for 344 yards and limited Gainesville’s record-setting quarterback, Deshaun Watson, to less than 200 yards passing as the Wolves routed Gainesville 38-14 Friday in a matchup of defending state champions.
Class AAA Buford earned a measure of revenge after losing to Gainesville 19-15 last season, the Wolves’ only loss (excluding two forfeits) in what would become their eighth state championship season in 12 years. It also was Buford’s fifth victory in six all-time meetings with the Red Elephants.
Gainesville will open play in Region 8-AAAAA next weekend at home against Winder-Barrow.
Here are some of the things we learned about Class AAAAA on Friday:
- The losing streak is over: North Springs entered play with the longest losing streak in Class AAAAA, a drought of 34 games that would have been 40 if not for a forfeit victory against Stone Mountain 2009. But the Spartans’ slump ended with a 35-34 victory against Class AA Hapeville Charter. The victory also was the first at the school for new coach Steve Horton, the former Lithia Springs coach who was hired from Mason Creek Middle School to replace Maj. (Ret.) Todd Powers.
- Region 6-AAAAA goes according to plan: This marked the first week of region play in 6-AAAAA, and the top three teams had no trouble, as expected. No. 2 Tucker got touchdowns from seven players in a 75-0 rout of North Atlanta. No. 3 Stephenson cruised past an Arabia Mountain team that played the Jaguars close last year. No. 5 M.L. King beat Southwest DeKalb 48-10, dropping the Panthers to 0-2 for the first time since 2005. Lakeside-DeKalb also won, beating Dunwoody for the second consecutive season.
- TCC still has Marist’s number: Thomas County Central’s 28-21 victory over Class AAAA Marist was the Yellow Jackets’ seventh win in eight all-time meetings. Only two of the games – Marist’s 35-21 victory in 2003 and Thomas County Central’s 34-16 win in 1997 – were decided by more than a touchdown, and three of the games were one-point contests. Thomas County Central quarterback Adam Choice had 145 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 70 yards in a game that was tied 14-14 at halftime.
- Fame can be fleeting: North Paulding was the talk of 5-AAAAA after knocking off defending region champion East Paulding 27-13 in the teams’ opener last week. But the Wolfpack didn’t stay at the top very long, losing to third-year program New Manchester 41-30. Critics who scoffed at New Manchester’s 2-0 start in 2012 were justified, as the Jaguars finished 2-8. Now New Manchester is alone in first place in the region at 3-0, with a victory against a strong playoff contender, and has to be considered a legitimate threat.
- Lakeside-Evans can take advantage: The Panthers pulled off one of the bigger surprises of the weekend when they rallied for a 23-14 victory against Thomson, the No. 10 team in Class AAA. Thomson, playing its first game after its opener against Burke County was cancelled because of bad weather, lost three fumbles, threw two interceptions and picked up 103 yards in penalties, according to the Augusta Chronicle, in squandering a 14-3 first-half lead. Lakeside had lost 12 of the previous 13 meetings with Thomson.