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Monday May 30th, 2016 8:11PM

A well-familiar path: Buford trekking back to Dome

By staff
CARTERSVILLE -- Every year at this time area high school football fans have come to know that three things are a given:

Buford football will play defense.

Buford will run the football with success.

And Buford will play in the Georgia Dome.

The Wolves used the first two of those aspects to secure the third on Friday, as Buford pushed past Cartersville 21-10 in the Class AAA semifinals in Cartersville.

The victory marched the Wolves back into the state championship round in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the sixth straight season, where Buford will take on St. Pius at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

After dropping last season's Class AA championship -- their first state title loss in five straight attempts -- the Wolves showed they have their tried and true formula working toward redemption on Friday.

Buford (11-3) held a potent Purple Hurricanes offense to just 177 yards, including minus-21 yards rushing and picked off three Cartersville passes in the win.

Meanwhile, the Wolves ground out 288 yards rushing, including 97 and a touchdown on 22 carries for Dontravious Wilson.

Wilson put Buford on the board with a two-yard scoring run with just 1:11 to play in the first half, cutting into a 10-0 start for Cartersville (13-1). The Purple Hurricanes held grimly to the three-point lead through the third quarter, but the Wolves were not to be denied.

Joshua Thomas, who finished with 51 yards rushing, staked the visitors to a 14-10 advantage on a three-yard scoring run with 11:05 left to play.

The Wolves then took to the air, as quarterback Montgomery VanGorder found Isaac Nauta for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 5:30 remaining and a 21-10 advantage.

Thomas Wilson also rushed for 55 yards for Buford, while Tre Neal caugt four passes for 35 yards. VanGorder completed 5 of 9 passes for 41 yards.

After suffering just two picks in the previous 13 games, Cartersville quarterback Brooks Barden saw the Wolves notch three interceptions, while completing 14 of 22 passes for 198 yards and a score. His top target proved Hayes Linn with six catches for 110 yards. Josh Cooper also caught a 15-yard scoring strike with 5:38 left in the second quarter. The score proved the high-water mark for the Purple Hurricanes.

Buford will go for its eighth state title in 12 seasons next week against St. Pius.
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