An inspired first-half defensive performance helped Winder-Barrow put top-ranked Buford on potential upset alert for a half Friday, Oct. 29, at W. Clair Harris Stadium. But the Wolves imposed their will in the second half with explosive offensive plans and their customary suffocating defense to put a damper on the Bulldoggs’ hopes.
Buford scored touchdowns on three of its first four second-half possessions and added a pick-six for good measure to pull away from the Bulldoggs 38-2, setting up a showdown in next week’s regular-season finale between the two-time defending state champions and Dacula for the GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA title. The Bulldoggs (4-5, 2-3 region) are set to take on Lanier (3-5, 2-3) in Sugar Hill with the fourth and final playoff seed in the region at stake.
Buford (8-1, 5-0) entered Friday’s game having notched four consecutive shutouts and averaging close to 50 points per region contest, but the Wolves had to work a little harder at it in the first half Friday against the Bulldogg defense, which held them without a first down until nearly halfway through the second quarter.
However, Winder-Barrow’s inability to move the ball effectively against a punishing Buford unit helped the Wolves control field advantage. The Wolves broke through first with a 39-yard field goal late in the first quarter by Alejandro Mata that capped a drive that began at the Bulldoggs’ 25-yard line following a 19-yard punt return.
The Bulldoggs finally flipped the field in the second quarter when Caylan Barron got off a strong 71-yard punt that rolled down to the Wolves’ 2, and on the first snap of the ensuing possession, linebacker Aidan Thompson and company hit the Buford runner and drove him back into the end zone for a safety that made it 3-2 with 8:46 left in the half.
Buford, though, finally got its offense rolling a few minutes later with a quick five-play, 95-yard touchdown drive, starting with three big first-down runs by CJ Clinkscales and then a long 43-yard touchdown pass from Ashton Daniels to KJ Bolden on play-action that extended the Wolves’ lead to 10-2.
Buford continued rolling to start the third quarter. After a kickoff return to Winder-Barrow 43, the Wolves needed just four plays to find the end zone again with Clinkscales carrying the ball end from 7 yards away, and, following a three-and-out by Winder-Barrow quickly marched 73 yards. Dylan Wittke aired one out to Isaiah Bond for a 58-yard gain down to the Bulldogg 1, and Jake Humphrey crossed the goal line on the next snap. Wittke, the Wolves’ second quarterback of the night, added a 14-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, and Hysan Dalton’s 35-yard interception return iced the game.
B 3 7 14 14 — 38
W 0 2 0 0 — 2
B—Alejandro Mata 39 FG
B—KJ Bolden 43 pass from Ashton Daniels (Mata kick)
B—CJ Clinkscales 7 run (Mata kick)
B—Jake Humphrey 1 run (Mata kick)
B—Dylan Wittke 14 run (Mata kick)
B—Hysan Dalton 35 interception return (Mata kick)