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Title loss not what Buford has come to expect

Staff Photo: John Bohn Nan Burge, a 1951 graduate of Buford High School, cheers for her grandson, Tyler Burge, the starting center for the Buford football team, during the class AA state championship game Friday. Nan Burge played basketball during her years as a Buford student. Buford was defeated by Calhoun 27-24 in overtime in the Class AA state championship game played in the Georgia Dome Friday.
 Highlights from Buford's 27-24 overtime loss to Calhoun in the Class AA state title game on Dec. 9, 2011.
 Staff Photo: John Bohn Buford freshman students Grace Gazaway, 14, left, and Karley Hammond, 15, right, express concern as Buford falls behind Calhoun during the fourth quarter of the Class AA state championship game played in the Georgia Dome Friday. Buford came back to tie the game, only to lose in overtime 27-24. 

Staff Photo: John Bohn Nan Burge, a 1951 graduate of Buford High School, cheers for her grandson, Tyler Burge, the starting center for the Buford football team, during the class AA state championship game Friday. Nan Burge played basketball during her years as a Buford student. Buford was defeated by Calhoun 27-24 in overtime in the Class AA state championship game played in the Georgia Dome Friday. Highlights from Buford's 27-24 overtime loss to Calhoun in the Class AA state title game on Dec. 9, 2011. Staff Photo: John Bohn Buford freshman students Grace Gazaway, 14, left, and Karley Hammond, 15, right, express concern as Buford falls behind Calhoun during the fourth quarter of the Class AA state championship game played in the Georgia Dome Friday. Buford came back to tie the game, only to lose in overtime 27-24. 

Video

Buford vs. Calhoun state title game highlights

From the Class AA Championship

* Additional Game Action Photos

* Spotted fan photos

* Title loss not what Buford has come to expect

* Calhoun stuns Buford to win state title

* Emotional roller coaster leaves Wolves feeling low

* Buford meets defense like its own

ATLANTA -- Nan Burge has seen a lot of Buford football games in her lifetime, but it's doubtful she's seen many like this one.

For one thing, it was the last one her youngest grandson Tyler -- Buford's starting center -- would play in a Wolves uniform. With her oldest great-grandchild just 5 years old, the 1951 Buford graduate and former Wolves basketball player has to wait a few years for the possibility of watching the fifth generation suit up in a green and gold uniform in a high school sport.

But the outcome of Friday's Class AA state championship game against Calhoun was definitely different from from what she and the rest of the Wolves' fans in attendance at the Georgia Dome have been used to.

Still, even before top-ranked Buford's stunning 27-24 overtime loss to No. 2 Calhoun, Friday's game had a different feel to it for another reason.

"They're all exciting," Burge said from her front row seat near the 50-yard line at halftime. "But this one is a little special because they're going for the record."

After falling just short in in the extra period, the Wolves (14-1) were unable to write their names alone atop the Georgia High School Association's record for most consecutive state titles, and will instead have to share it with the 1982-85 West Rome teams.

It's a feeling Buford and its fans are decidedly not used to experiencing after seeing the Wolves win not only the last four state titles, but a total of seven in 10 championship game appearances since 2000.

"This is hard. It hurts. It's not what we wanted," Buford coach Jess Simpson said. "It's not what we planned for. It's hard to even know what to say right now.

"You know, part of life is losing. We can grow from this. One moment doesn't define you. ... (But) when you get in this kind of game. There's a winner and a loser. There's a lot of finality to what you do (Friday)."

No one is feeling that finality more than Buford's 30-member senior class that includes seven players already verbally committed to play college football at major Division I programs.

Simpson said that no matter how painful the loss, it would not detract from the legacy of all the players, and especially the seniors.

"I told (the players) how much I loved them and how much I respect the way they played," Simpson said of his postgame speech to the Wolves. "I told the seniors how much I appreciated how they've invested four years. ... I hate for these seniors, as special as they've been, to have to go out like this."