Buford got a 26-yard field goal from Alejandro Mata in overtime and then recovered a fumble on Lee County’s possession to preserve a 34-31 victory in the Class 6A championship game Tuesday night at Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium.

The championship was the second straight for No. 2 Buford, which won the title in Class 5A last season before moving up in reclassification. The Wolves have won 12 championships since 2000, at least one in every class from A to 6A, and 13 overall. Buford won 13 consecutive games after opening the season with a 28-14 loss to Region 3-7A champion North Cobb.

Top-ranked County came up short in its bid to win its third 6A title in four years and finished the season 12-2.

After Mata’s field goal, Lee County moved 11 yards in three plays and had a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line. On the next play, Caleb McDowell was stripped of the ball by Jake Pope, and River Wilson recovered at the 3 to end the game.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” Buford coach Bryant Appling said. “It wasn’t the prettiest game. We made a bunch of mistakes, but our kids being tough, going through all the COVID regulations and everything since June 8, they have stepped up and have handled it great. I just think the grittiness of them, the toughness of them showed up in overtime.”

Lee County appeared to have the game won in regulation when Chauncey Magwood scored on a 21-yard run with 1:58 remaining to give the Trojans a 31-24 lead. However, Buford drove 69 yards in nine plays and tied the game on a 16-yard pass from Ashton Daniels to Isaiah Bond with 46 seconds left.

Daniels did not start the game but was a huge factor. He was 13-of-17 passing for 192 yards and two touchdowns (both to Bond), ran for 16 yards and a touchdown on five carries and averaged 42.3 yards on three punts.

Daniels also came on in relief in last year’s championship game, rallying the Wolves to a 17-14 overtime victory over Warner Robins for the 5A title.

Daniels and starting quarterback Dylan Wittke combined for 217 yards passing. The Wolves’ running game, which was averaging 246.9 yards for the season, was limited to 181 yards on 32 carries, but Gabe Ervin (62 yards on 13 carries) and Victor Venn (59 yards on eight carries) both came up with some big runs,

The lost fumble in overtime was a disappointing end to the season for McDowell, who had been outstanding throughout the first four rounds of the playoffs and was again on Tuesday. The South Carolina signee, who came into the game with 16 touchdowns in the postseason, added two more against Buford, on a 95-yard kickoff return and a 32-yard run in the second quarter. Both of his scores came immediately after Buford touchdowns and sent the game to halftime tied 14-14.

Lee County took its first lead of the game early in the third quarter on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Magwood to Jevell Fugerson, who fought off two defenders inside the 10-yard line and made his way into the end zone.

The teams then exchanged punts before Buford tied the game with a six-play, 80-yard that was extended when Lee County was penalized for a personal foul on a third-down play with the Wolves’ inside their own 30. C.J. Clinkscales made it a 21-21 game when he capped the drive with a 34-yard touchdown run with 2:57 to play in the quarter.

Both teams added field goals early in the fourth quarter, a 24-yarder by Lee County’s Alex Collins and a 22-yarder by Buford’s Mata.

Magwood, who signed with Kentucky as a wide receiver, was 9-of-11 passing for 183 yards and a touchdown and ran for 91 yards and a score.

Lee County - 0-14-7-10-0 - 31

Buford - 0-14-7-10-3 - 34

Second quarter

B - Ashton Daniels 1 run (Alejandro Mata kick), 10:14

LC - Caleb McDowell 95 kickoff return (Austin Hunt kick), 10:02

B - Isaiah Bond 53 pass from Ashton Daniels (Alejandro Mata kick), 8:43

LC - Caleb McDowell 32 run (Austin Hunt kick), 8:28

Third quarter

LC - Jevell Fugerson 56 pass from Chauncey Magwood (Austin Hunt kick), 9:52

B - C.J. Clinkscales 34 run (Alejandro Mata kick), 2:57

Fourth quarter

LC - Alex Collins 24 field goal, 11:51

B - Alejandro Mata 22 field goal, 10:28

LC - Chauncey Magwood 21 run (Alex Collins kick), 1:58

B - Isaiah Bond 16 pass from Ashton Daniels (Alejandro Mata kick), 0:46

Overtime

B - Alejandro Mata 26 field goal

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