The Manchester Blue Devils thought they had the Buford Wolves on the ropes Friday night in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.
Instead, all they did was make the Region 6-AA champions mad.
And that's not a real good idea.
The Buford Wolves stormed back from an early 7-0 deficit to score 38 straight points against the Blue Devils and cruise to a 38-14 victory at Tom Riden Stadium.
With the victory, Buford (12-0) advances to the quarterfinals, where it will take on that old familiar foe from down South - the two-time defending state champion Charlton County Indians (who defeated Dodge County 40-16) - next Friday night.
Since both teams are No. 1 seeds, the site of the game will be determined today with a coin flip.
"It was fun to see our kids get behind and have to respond, and have to make plays," said Buford head coach Jess Simpson, whose team hadn't trailed this season since Week 2 against Cartersville. "The kids showed a lot of poise."
Manchester (9-3) drove 87 yards on eight plays, highlighted by a 70-yard pass from Shawn Rider to Dontavious Carter, to score on a 2-yard run by Shandrea Holloway with 8:19 left in the first quarter.
Then on the Wolves' first play from scrimmage, senior Quentin Cantrell fumbled and the Blue Devils' Mandrea Holloway returned it to the Buford 3-yard line.
Suddenly Manchester was three yards away from going up two touchdowns on the No. 2 team in the state.
But those three yards never came. Shandrea Holloway fumbled on the very next play and Buford's Brandon McEachern recovered.
"Our coaches always preach to us to try to do good after a sudden change," McEachern said. "And that was big."
The Wolves then marched 97 yards on nine plays, the last 10 coming on a Cantrell 10-yard run, to even the game at 7-7.
"I was like, 'Oh my god,'' Cantrell said of his fumble. "But it just made me come out and play harder. And our defense made a play down there (on the goal line)."
Simpson then surprised the Blue Devils with an onside kick that Buford recovered at the Manchester 44-yard line. On the very next snap, the Wolves ran a trick play when Justin Black squatted down real low behind the bunched-up Buford offensive line and sped around left end for a 29-yard gain.
The Wolves scored three plays later, on a five-yard run by Demetris Murray, and the rout was officially on.
"I felt like we needed a little momentum," Simpson said of the onside kick and the subsequent trick play. "And I think that sent a message to our defense that I had confidence in them (if Buford didn't recover the kick). And that was big to really get the ball rolling for us."
The ball didn't stop rolling until the game was well in hand.
After Cantrell's fumble, Buford scored the next six times it got the ball. Cantrell scored again on a 6-yard run early in the second quarter, Lawson McGlon (who was a perfect 5 of 5 on PATs) kicked a 24-yard field goal and Murray capped the first-half scoring with a 1-yard run with 3:10 left in the half.
Meanwhile, the Manchester offense couldn't get anything going.
After the Blue Devils' initial drive, they only achieved two more first downs in the first half, and both Michael Johnsa and David Hendrix intercepted Rider passes.
Buford then scored on its first drive of the second half, a 12-play, 86-yard march that culminated in Murray's third score of the night, to officially put the game away.
Manchester scored a meaningless touchdown with 5:04 left in the fourth quarter, which had a running clock because of the lopsided score.
Cantrell finished with 82 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and Murray wound up with 80 yards and three scores on 15 carries.
"If our O-line does what it's got to do up front, we'll have success in the backfield," said Cantrell, who went over 1,000 yards on the year in the victory.
Buford QB Twoey Hosch was his usual efficient self, completing 5 of 7 passes for 107 yards in helping the Wolves advance to yet another showdown with the Indians.
This will be the fourth straight year the two teams have met in the playoffs. The winner of each of the last three has been crowned state champion.
"We've got to play at our best next week," Cantrell said. "You always have to play your best when two top teams clash."
"I like our team and I like our chances," said Simpson, who joked he'd rather play paper-rock-scissors for home field instead of flipping a coin. "Our kids are playing with a whole lot of confidence right now."
Buford 38, Manchester 14
Manchester 7 0 0 7 - 14
Buford 14 17 7 0 - 38
Manchester: Shandrea Holloway 2 run (Neal Browning kick) 8:19
Buford: Quentin Cantrell 10 run (Lawson McGlon kick) 3:35
Buford: Demetris Murray 5 run (McGlon kick) 2:24
Buford: Cantrell 6 run (McGlon kick) 11:22
Buford: McGlon 24 FG, 5:35
Buford: Murray 1 run (McGlon kick) 3:10
Buford: Murray 6 run (McGlon kick) 5:47
Manchester: Shawn Rider 4 run (Browning kick) 5:04
First downs 8 15
Rushes-yards 28-40 41-200
Passing yards 150 115
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-14-3 6-8-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties 0-0 3-42
RUSHING - Manchester: Shandrea Holloway 10-19; Shawn Rider 7-10; Cornelius Hunt 2-7; Dontavious Carter 2-6; K.K. Davis 6-2; Shavel Kelly 1-(-4). Buford: Quentin Cantrell 15-82; Demetris Murray 15-80; Justin Black 1-29; Cody Getz 3-10; Storm Johnson 1-3; Ja'Kar Bridges 1-2; Michael May 1-(-1); Daunte Carr 1-(-1); Twoey Hosch 3-(-4).
PASSING - Manchester: Rider 7-12-3, 123; Davis 1-2-0, 27. Buford: Hosch 5-7-0, 107; May 1-1-0, 8.
RECEIVING - Manchester: Carter 3-105; Adrian Ferguson 1-29; Marco Turner 1-9; Davis 1-7; Cory Phillips 1-3; Hunt 1-(-1). Buford: Chase Burnette 3-67; David Hendrix 2-40; Isiah Cross 1-8.