Tom Riden Stadium will be the site of this Friday's GPB.org game of the week when Gainesville pays Buford a visit, looking to bounce back from last Thursday's 32-30 loss and from last year's 49-0 loss to the Wolves. Buford blasted Gainesville with a team that featured countless BCS prospects, but nearly all of those players have since graduated. Gainesville returns its star quarterback, junior DeShaun Watson, as well as multiple receivers that will allow Watson to thrive this season.
Last week, Watson turned the ball over four times against West Forsyth, but nearly rallied the Red Elephants back from a 32-15 deficit, scoring two late touchdowns to pull within an onside kick of possibly winning the game. The Red Elephants offense actually outgained West Forsyth 429-353 as Watson accounted for 364 yards alone, but the turnovers proved to be too much.
Buford managed to knock off Elbert County 14-3 in the Granite Bowl behind 117 yards rushing and just 169 yards of total offense. The defense stood its ground by limiting Elbert County to just 136 yards and Score 44 running back Tyshon Dye to just 66 yards rushing. Zavior Hoxie led the Wolves with 93 yards rushing, but it was Dontravious Wilson that recorded Buford's lone rushing touchdown. Quarterback Montgomery VanGorder connected with sophomore Thomas Wilson on a 37-yard touchdown to ice the game in the fourth quarter. Buford's offensive attack was certainly limited as the weather forced the Wolves to attempt just one pass in the first half.
The key to this game will be whether Gainesville can revert to its nearly turnover-free days of 2011 when the Red Elephants committed just 14 turnovers in 14 games, or if the Wolves' defense can continue to stifle Gainesville much like they did last August. Look for Buford offensive guard Josh Cardiello and cornerback Jaylen Mize to provide leadership on both sides of the ball and keep Buford on track for a sixth straight GHSA finals appearance.