Buford defeats Westminster

Buford, a football team known for offense, did it with defense Friday night.

The three-time defending Class AA champion blocked a field goal and intercepted four passes, including two by Dillon Lee, in beating visiting Westminster 32-10 in a Region 6-AA game.

Buford proved itself fully recovered from a 14-0 loss to Carver-Columbus last week, the Wolves’ second loss in four seasons and first shutout loss since the second round of the playoffs in 1999. The victory was Buford’s third over Westminster in as many tries, including 21-0 and 29-7 wins the past two seasons.

Wolves coach Jess Simpson was pleased with his players, who faced tough competition in a scrimmage against Class AAAA runner-up Clarke Central, their season opener against AAA finalist Gainesville and the showdown for the No. 1 ranking with Carver.

“We’ve had as tough a stretch as anybody,” he said. “We’ve been through the proverbial meat grinder these last few weeks.”

Eric Barr, whose 95-yard return of a blocked field goal gave Buford the lead for good at 9-3, put the finishing touches on Westminster by returning an interception 70 yards for the final margin with 38 seconds left.

Buford led 16-10 at halftime, largely because of its defense. After spotting the Wildcats (1-2) a 3-0 lead on Jeremy Godsell’s 43-yard field goal, the Wolves (2-1) coerced an errant snap over running back Ralph David Abernathy’s head that rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety. Trailing only 3-2, Buford took the lead for good when Rick Legrant blocked Westminster’s 36-yard field-goal attempt and Barr cashed in the return.

Buford held its biggest lead of the first half at 16-3, when Nathan Staub ended an 89-yard drive with a 1-yard run 3:55 before halftime. Westminster, sparked by a fumble recovery 1:52 before the half, closed within 16-10 when Linginfelter passed two yards over the middle to Dylan Jeffay.

David Petroni put the Wolves ahead 19-10 with a 37-yard field goal with 8:03 remaining, and Dominique Swope made it 25-10 with a 27-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-4 with 1:38 left.