LEESBURG — There was no need for a goal-line miracle this time around for Buford.
Their rematch of 2020's Class 6A state championship game with Lee County in the 2021 state quarterfinals was instead decided long before the end of regulation.
The Wolves rode a dominant defense to a 27-0 shutout win in Leesburg to advance to the state semifinals Friday night.
"I'm very proud of those guys," Buford head coach Bryant Appling said after the game. "They were physical. They hit (Lee County) all night long. I think that's probably the most physical game we've played."
Buford will host Carrollton next Friday in the state semifinals at Tom Riden Stadium.
The Wolves defense was stout from the opening kickoff, forcing a three-and-out from Lee County's offense on the first possession of the game leading to a drive that ended in a 30-yard field goal from Alejandro Matta to give Buford a 3-0 lead.
The Trojans appeared to have a response as a long run by their star freshman running back Ousmane Kromah and a pair of pass played moved the ball to the Buford 12-yard-line on the ensuing drive. However, a penalty helped the Wolves' defense stop them on four consecutive plays after that.
Just a few plays later, a phenomenal diving catch by senior receiver Isaiah Bond set up an 11-yard Ashton Daniels touchdown run and a 10-0 Buford advantage early in the 2nd quarter.
"We have weapons all over the field," Daniels said. "Not to mention our defense that people overlooked all year. They're really the foundation of our offense, they're giving us opportunities to score."
That defense didn't allow another Lee County first down for the remainder of the first half and the offense rewarded them with another touchdown in the form of a 23-yard scoring run from senior Eli Parks to put Buford up 17-0. The Wolves would finish with 287 yards rushing on the night with the bulk of the yardage coming from the running back trio of Parks, C.J. Clinkscales and Victor Venn.
Venn led the effort with 141 yards.
"It was great. The O-line had some great blocks tonight, great blocking schemes. Offense was great, we were able to spread the ball, run outside, run inside and get some passes off of RPO's. I feel like that really clicked tonight," Venn said.
Lee County had an opportunity in the 3rd quarter to cut into the Buford lead, but a fumbled snap on a third-and-short inside the Buford 10-yard-line was recovered by the Wolves, snuffing out the Trojans' last true threat.
For the game, Lee County gained just 204 total yards compared to Buford's 461. Kromah was held to just 34 yards rushing on 10 carries with 30 of those yards coming on one play.
In the 4th quarter, Isaiah Bond put the game out of reach, catching a slant pass and outrunning the entire Lee County defense for a backbreaking 67-yard touchdown.
Despite the victory, Appling said his team has plenty to clean up if they hope to capture their third consecutive state championship.
"We've won nothing tonight," Appling said after the game. "We did some silly things at times that we usually don't do, which scares me, but that's a good team. It just happens like that sometimes, but I'm very proud of those guys tonight."
The best news for Appling is there will be another week to work on those mistakes, and this time there will not be a four-hour bus ride to get there.
"I just tell them every time you win one late in the year like this, it just gets that much more serious. We went 1-0 and we've got a chance to play again next week."