CARTERSVILLE - It's not often that a game between two highly ranked teams actually lives up to the hype.
However, Friday night's game between Class AA No. 3 Buford and Class AAA No. 7 Cartersville at Weinman Stadium didn't just live up to the hype. It may have exceeded it.
In the end, Buford's Lawson McGlon banged home a 20-yard field goal with 7.2 seconds to go to propel Buford to a 28-25 win over the Purple Hurricanes.
"(McGlon) is a first-year kicker for us and he stepped in there and did such a good job for us tonight," Buford coach Jess Simpson said. "Our kids showed a lot of poise, especially in the fourth quarter. It seemed like everything we did, Cartersville matched us. We made mistakes, but we showed a lot of poise and confidence in a hostile environment."
Buford (2-0) held a 14-3 lead at halftime after a 3-yard touchdown run by Demetrius Murray and a 70-yard scamper by Quinton Cantrell, but Cartersville (1-1) came back and took an 18-17 lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Lyle Allen to Donavan Tate with 5:40 to go in the game.
"I felt like our kids played hard all night," Cartersville coach Frank Barden said. "They wore their jerseys well. They played hard and competed all night and that's all you can ask of the kids."
Buford responded with a four-play, 68-yard scoring drive that was capped off by an 18-yard touchdown run by quarterback Twoey Hosch. Hosch also ran in the two-point conversion to put the Wolves ahead 25-18 with 3:42 remaining.
The Purple Hurricanes wouldn't go away, though, as Allen - who finished the game with 174 yards passing on 18 of 31 attempts - led Cartersville on a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive of its own.
The drive, which was aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Buford, was finished off by a 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Morgan Alexander.
Trent Dittmer's extra point tied the game at 25 with 2:01 to go.
"On offense, we had to make some plays and win battles when we were 1-on-1," Barden said. "We didn't win those battles in the first half, but we did in the second."
Buford took over on its own 18 after Cartersville kicked off and the Wolves went to work.
Murray ripped off a 21-yard run and Hosch found David Hendrix for a 35-yard pass to the Cartersville 25. Murray ran for three more yards and Hosch hit Brandon McEachern with a 14-yard strike to the Purple Hurricanes 10 with under a minute to go.
Murray had one more carry to Cartersville's two and a spike by Hosch stopped the clock with 7.2 seconds left.
McGlon, who'd made a 25-yard field goal and missed a 42-yarder earlier in the game, came on the field and calmly put his kick through the uprights, lifting the Wolves to an extremely hard-fought victory.
"We talk a lot about believing in each other and being a family," Simpson said. "We did a lot of that tonight. We had a lot of guys who hadn't been in this kind of a situation before and they stepped up for us."
Hosch finished the game 9-for-15 for 151 yards through the air and added 24 yards and a TD on five carries. Murray had 98 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and Cantrell wound up with 107 yards and a TD on 13 carries for the Wolves.