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Buford 30, Jefferson 22

Photo: Josh Martindale. Buford's Sherman Page leaps for a catch for a huge gain in Friday night's win at Jefferson.

Photo: Josh Martindale. Buford's Sherman Page leaps for a catch for a huge gain in Friday night's win at Jefferson.

JEFFERSON -- Buford swallowed up nearly nine minutes of the third quarter with a 17-play scoring drive to take a nine-point lead at Jefferson on Friday.

And it still wasn't over.

The Wolves scored again in the fourth quarter, pushing that lead to 16.

But Jefferson didn't quit.

The Dragons scored on a 50-yard pass and converted the two-point try to cut their deficit to eight, then recovered the onside kick.

But right outside the Buford 20, the comeback ended. Buford won its Class AA second-round playoff game 30-22 over Jefferson with the hands of defensive lineman Mitchell Dewalt.

A mishandled snap fell at the feet of the senior, who fell on the loose ball and ended the Jefferson comeback as abruptly as it begun.

"I jumped on the ball like it was my life," Dewalt said.

The win sends Buford back home for its third-round game against Cook -- back to a place the Wolves typically play their playoff games.

"Any time you are playing on Thanksgiving it's been a good season," said Buford head coach Jess Simpson. "We are blessed to be at home next week."

It's a trip back they earned at Jefferson.

The Wolves' offense could only stop itself, scoring on all but three drives and punting just once. The defense allowed just 87 rushing yards and the backfield allowed Jefferson quarterback Darius Minor to complete just 50 percent of his passes.

"I couldn't be prouder," Simpson said.

The Wolves used seven different backs to pound out 251 rushing yards on 45 carries, 111 yards coming from Seon Jones, who followed an offensive line that wore down the Dragons during the game. Every Buford drive lasted nearly five minutes.

It was the constant pounding that led to the opening drive of the second half, where the Wolves went 82 yards on 17 plays and took up 8:53 of the 12 minute quarter.

"They held the ball all night," said Jefferson coach T. McFerrin. "We just couldn't get the ball away from them.

"We did not quit. We were not intimidated. We thought we could win the football game."

It wasn't until there were less than five minutes remaining in the game that the Dragons picked up a second-half first down and even that was on their own side of the field. They had zero offensive yards in the third quarter and ran less than five plays.

"At halftime we went in and didn't change anything," Dewalt said. "We had to just go out and ball."

With the exception of the Dragons' final death rattle, they did.

"We gave up one play, but that's football," Simpson said.

And Buford gets to keep playing as it chases a third straight state title with a young team.

"Since halftime of the Lovett game these kids have done nothing but make a statement," Simpson said.