No. 1 Buford withstood four turnovers and beat Carver-Columbus for the fourth time in as many years, this time a 36-6 win over the fourth-ranked Tigers Friday night at Tom Riden Stadium in Buford.
Friday’s win was a rematch of a 2012 Class AAA quarterfinal the Wolves also won on its home field. The defending Class AAA champions (13-0) stuffed the Carver offense early and coasted after building a 22-0 first-quarter lead. A coin flip will determine the site for next week’s semifinal with Callaway.
Facing 4th-and-9 from the 19 on its first offensive drive, Carver punter Raekwon Lowe saw a snap sail over his head for a safety, giving Buford a 2-0 lead. Two field goals from placekicker Matthew Bonadies gave Buford an 8-0 advantage, and after David Curry intercepted Carver quarterback Jawon Pass at the 50, Buford took a 15-0 lead behind a 4-play drive that ended with a 10-yard scramble from quarterback Taylor Mitchell.
On the next play from scrimmage, Carver running back Noah Hickey lost a fumble at the Tigers 19. Buford needed just two plays to go ahead 22-0 when Evin Cooper scored around left end from eight yards away. The Wolves defense held its 13th consecutive opponent out of the end zone in the first quarter this season.
“Last year and the year before we were behind at halftime,” Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. “To get ahead and put a little pressure on them was a big deal.”
The Carver defense forced three Buford turnovers in the second quarter – two fumbles and an interception – and converted the third into when Pass scored on a 1-yard sneak with 2:46 to play before halftime to pull the Tigers within 22-6.
“The running didn’t look glamorous but those 3- and 4- and 5-yard runs helped set up the play action in the end,” Simpson said. “It’s a different kind of game and a different time of year. You’re not going to score every time you get the ball.”
Buford leading rusher Thomas Wilson (12 carries, 78 yards) put the Wolves up 29-6 when he scored from 16 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter. Mitchell found fullback Tyler Shipman for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 9:07 left to play.
Carver 0 6 0 0 00
Buford 22 0 0 14 00
B – Safety
B -Matthew Bonadies 29 FG
B – Bonadies 39 FG
B – Taylor Mitchell 10 run (Bonadies kick)
B – Evin Cooper 8 run (Bonadies kick)
C – Jawon Pass 1 run (kick failed)
B – Thomas Wilson 16 run (Bonadies kick)
B – Mitchell 36 pass to Tyler Shipman (Bonadies kick)