BUFORD -- The Buford offense may be the highest scoring unit in Class AAA, but the Wolves proved yet again that defense rules in the playoffs.
One week after holding Sonoraville to just 26 total yards, Buford limited Woodward Academy to just 90 yards and four first downs until late in the game in a 40-7 demolition Friday in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs at Tom Riden Stadium.
The win moved the Wolves into the state quarterfinals, where they will take on familiar for Carver, Columbus. The two teams will conduct a coin flip for home field advantage on Saturday morning.
The Wolves are back in the quarterfinals for the 14th straight season thanks in large part to their defense.
Buford sacked three different Woodward Academy quarterbacks eight times, returned a fumble for a touchdown, and the special teams added a blocked punt return for a touchdown in the rout.
They held South Carolina commit Terry Googer to just 3-of-5 passing for 42 yards before knocking him out of the game in the first quarter after three consecutive sacks. Googer left with what appeared to be a lower leg or knee injury.
The Wolves (12-0) blew the game open late in the second quarter with three touchdowns in a 1:58 span, sparked by the defense.
After the defense sacked War Eagles' backup quarterback Mack Green on back-to-back plays and forced a short punt, Thomas Wilson broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead. On Woodward's next possession, Wilson scooped up a War Eagles fumble and waltzed in for his second score in a 62 second span.
Buford finished the blitz when Avery Turner blocked William Collings punt attempt on the War Eagles' next possession and Tyler Winslow ran it in 14-yards for the score and a 26-0 lead with just 28 seconds left in the half.
Woodward Academy (9-3) never recovered.
The defensive effort impressed Buford coach Jess Simpson.
"Our defense turned the game around," Simpson said. "The fumble was big and then to get the blocked punt was huge right there before the half. We've felt for a while Avery was going to get one (block a punt) sooner or later and he did.
"They have been a great practice team and they had a great week of preparation. They brought it into the game and were outstanding. Woodward is a good offensive team with a lot of good players. Not having their quarterback hurt them I'm sure."
Wilson, a senior, said he wouldn't want to play against the Wolves' No. 1 unit.
"We feel like no one should be able to score on us," he said. "We just try to play hard. The fumble play was crazy and I just was able to get to the ball and run it in. You could see things change after that."
The Buford defense set the tone early limiting the War Eagles to just one first down on their first three drives, including the three sacks of Googer. The Buford offense started strong taking its initial drive 78-yards on eight plays, capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Mitchell to Isaac Nauta for a 7-0 lead with 5:45 left in the first quarter.
But it stayed that way until the Wolves' blitzkrieg at the end of the half as the War Eagles' defense forced two punts and one fumble in Buford's first four drives. Buford had just eight punts all season coming into the game.
Woodward would get just two first downs in the first half and managed just 60 total yards, only 9 rushing, before halftime.
Simpson said they challenged the offense to pick things up in the second half. They needed just two plays as their answer.
Wilson raced 76-yards for his third touchdown of the game to push the lead to 33-0.
The Wolves' defense would rise to the occasion again when Austin Smith intercepted a Green pass on 2nd-and-goal to snuff out the War Eagles only scoring threat until late in the fourth quarter.
Smith's interception sparked Buford's best drive of the night. Montgomery VanGorder would connect with Nauta on a pair of passes for 31 yards and Donte Gordon would finish it off with a 3-yard scoring run plowing over a Woodward defender to get into the end zone for a 40-0 lead.
The War Eagles finally got on the board late in the fourth quarter against the Buford defensive reserves. Green connected with Joshua Johnson on a 20-yard touchdown pass to break up the shutout.
Woodward would finish with 215 total yards, but 125 came in the War Eagles' final two drives.
Buford finished with 310 total yards, 231 on the ground, paced by Wilson's 105 yards on seven carries.
-- NOTES: According to Georgia High School Football Daily, no team has won every game by 21 or more points since Valdosta in 1971. The Wolves have won all 12 games this year by at least 24. ... The 40 points by Buford was the most allowed by Woodward Academy this season. But they held the Wolves 12 points under their season average. ... Buford advanced to its 14th straight trip to the quarterfinals with the win. ... The War Eagles have not advanced to the quarterfinals since 1999.
Woodward....0.....0.....0....7 -- 7
Buford..........7...19...14....0 -- 40
BUF -- Nauta 21 pass from Mitchell (Bonadies kick) 7-0, 5:45
BUF -- Th. Wilson 43 run (Bonadies kick) 14-0, 2:20
BUF -- Th. Wilson 22 fumble return (run failed) 20-0, 1:18
BUF -- Winslow 14 punt block return (kick failed) 26-0, 0:28
BUF -- Th. Wilson 76 run (Bonadies kick) 33-0, 11:17
BUF -- Gordon 3 run (Bonadies kick) 40-0, 4:40
WA -- J. Johnson 20 pass from Green (Collings kick) 4:20, 40-7