Winning on the road isn’t easy for a young team, especially when the stakes are high. But the Buford Wolves withstood a late run by Milton and left Eagles’ Landing with a 26-23 win on Friday night.
This was a matchup originally scheduled as part of the Corky Kell Classic in the opening week of the football season, but inclement weather cancelled four games at Coolray Field. The Wolves (2-0), ranked No. 2 in AAAAA, led 26-10 heading into the final quarter before AAAAAAA’s defending state champion Eagles (1-1), ranked No. 6, went on a 13-0 run.
The Eagles pulled to within the game’s final margin with 2:54 left, and had a chance at a final drive with 2:14 remaining after Buford went three-and-out and punted. However, Milton’s Adam Freas muffed it and Buford’s Boyd Farmer recovered on the 22. With the Eagles out of timeouts, the Wolves ran out the clock to escape with the win.
Wolves coach Bryant Appling, in his first year at the helm after serving as an assistant on the staff for 15 years, was happy to leave with a win. However, he sees a lot left to be desired in his team.
“(The win) was important,” Appling said. “We’re a young team. So I know we needed some momentum some way, somehow. But the mistakes, the lapse in judgment and the lack of concentration is what getting us right now. ...Milton is a great team and when we were up on them, (the Eagles) didn’t quit. Our kids probably thought they would give in, but they didn’t and they were surprised. I’m proud of them, but it’s still a sick feeling in my stomach right now.”
The Wolves were in control most of the game, and never trailed. On their first drive, Elijah Turner broke a 75-yard run for a touchdown. He’d tack on another 1-yard run with 3:36 left in the first half on fourth-and-goal, giving Buford a 19-7 lead.
“We came out strong and that was really good for us,” Turner said. “(The first half) was a big tone-setter.”
Milton also scored on its first drive, with Jackson Weaver completing a four-yard pass to tight end Jack Nickel. Jason Aussin drilled a 40-yard field goal as time expired to bring the halftime score to 19-10.
With 2:08 remaining in the third, Buford quarterback Jarvis Evans found Justice Johnson wide open downfield for a 43-yard touchdown to break the game open at 26-10.
But Milton wasn’t done. The Eagles replaced Weaver with Devin Farrell, who connected with Nickel for a 39-yard scoring reception with 6:57 left in the game. Two plays earlier, the dual-threat Farrell extended the drive with a 15-yard run on third-and-9, avoiding a sack in the backfield. After a Buford punt, the Eagles used six plays to move 49 yards, with Farrell hitting Will Stax for a 17-yard touchdown, bringing the score to its final margin.
The Wolves were led by Turner, who rushed 12 times for 117 yards and two scores. Gabe Ervin Jr. rushed 15 times for 90 yards and a touchdown, and Evans was 7-of-8 passing for 126 yards and a touchdown. Johnson’s touchdown reception for 43 yards led the team.
The Eagles were led by Farrell, who was 4-of-7 for 73 yards and two touchdowns, adding five carries for 63 yards. Ahmad Junearick rushed 17 times for 78 yards. Nickel had five catches for 62 yards. Weaver was 7-of-10 for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Buford 6 13 7 0 — 26
Milton 7 3 0 13 — 23
B —Elijah Turner 75 run (kick failed)
M — Jack Nickel 4 pass from Jackson Weaver (Jason Aussin kick)
B — Gabe Ervin Jr. 1 run (Hayden Olsen kick)
B — Turner 1 run (kick failed)
M — Aussin 40 FG
B — Justice Johnson 43 pass from Jarvis Evans Jr. (Olsen kick)
M — Nickel 39 pass from Devin Farrell (pass failed)
M — Will Stax 17 pass from Farrell (Aussin kick)