BUFORD - Buford head coach Jess Simpson may want to bottle up the cold air of the polar express if the Wolves are going to keep playing this kind of football in the Class AA state playoffs.
On a frigid night at Tom Riden Stadium, No. 1-ranked Buford stuck it to North Oconee early and often en route to a 44-7 win as the Wolves continued their quest for a second straight state title.
"Our confidence is growing and that's the good news," said Simpson. "That's three games in a row when we've really come out and done some really good things. And we've done it in all phases (offense, defense, special teams).
"I thought our kickoff team set the tone, defense got a three-and-out, got a short kick, good return, and the offense punched it in. We just rolled. We preach and talk and hope for a fast start. It was a lot of fun tonight."
Buford (12-0) was simply dominant in every phase of the game, which helped the Wolves advance to next week's quarterfinals to face a showdown with No. 2 Dublin. The site of that game will be determined by a coin flip this morning.
On offense, Buford rolled up 298 yards of total offense. While that total isn't the most the Wolves have posted this season, it's simply because the defense and special teams were constantly setting up the offense in great field position.
On its first four possessions of the game, Buford began three drives inside the North Oconee 40 and scored touchdowns each time - Cody Getz's 4-yard run, Colt Ours on a 17-yard pass from Michael May and Jessel Curry plowing in from 2 yards out.
When the Wolves were forced to start in their own territory at the 31 and stalled, they eventually faked a punt and scored when Getz broke loose from 29 yards away. Curry also scored on a 29-yard screen pass from May and Daniel Villafuerte nailed a 33-yard field as Buford rolled up the big 37-0 halftime lead.
Storm Johnson added Buford's final score of the night with a 29-yard run. Meanwhile, the Buford defense was aggressive and just never allowed North Oconee to gain an offensive presence.
In the first half alone, North Oconee (9-3) generated just 62 yards of total offense and three first downs. Five of the Titans' possessions ended in punts with the other two finishing in an interception and a fumble.
North Oconee did find the end zone in the fourth quarter when quarterback Sean Zorning hit tight end Kevin Burris from 7 yards out.
Buford 44, North Oconee 7
Buford: Cody Getz 4 run (kick failed) 9:03
Buford: Getz 62 run (Daniel Villafuerte kick) 4:34
Buford: Colt Ours 17 pass from Michael May (Villafuerte kick) 2:26
Buford: Jessel Curry 29 pass from May (Villafuerte kick) 11:50
Buford: Curry 2 run (Villafuerte kick) 6:53
Buford: Villafuerte 33 FG, :31
Buford: Storm Johnson 29 run (Villafuerte kick) 9:21
North Oconee: Kevin Burris 7 pass from Sean Zorning (James Pinkerton kick) 3:15
Rushing - North Oconee: Brandon Whitlock 11-41; Sean Zorning 11-30; Lane Thompson 4-25; Marcus Alford 5-15; Matt Sims 1-8. Buford: Storm Johnson 10-93; Sterling Bell 1-24; Cody Getz 4-21; Michael Fortson 3-15; Eric Barr 1-14; Grant Fox 2-10; Jessel Curry 2-5; Daunte Carr 3-(-5); Team 2-4.
Passing - North Oconee: Zorning 6-15-1, 54. Buford: Michael May 6-11-1, 102; Carr 2-4-0, 15.
Receiving - North Oconee: Kevin Burris 5-44; Frank Agyei 1-10. Buford: Devin Durden 3-47; Curry 1-29; Colt Ours 1-17; Zach Breedlove 1-10; Landon Anderson 1-9; Sherman Page 1-5.