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The Lancaster Bruins, much like an aroused bear, came to life in a hurry to score 20 points on the way to a 40-6 win over Buford at Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
Game Buford, which battled the Bruins on even terms in the opening period, saw Lancaster score on three straight possessions to gain the upper hand on the way to the 34-point victory.
“That’s a typical Buford team,” LHS coach Bennie McMurray said. “They’re going to fight, scrap and battle you, but we were able to get our offense going and make some big plays.”
The Bruins, igniting on their 20-point blitz, needed four plays to cover 49 yards, with LHS senior running back Roy Watts tallying on a two-yard run. Watts, who had 33 yards in the drive, ran for 93 yards in 10 carries.
Arnold Roman drilled the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 10:11 left in the half.
The LHS defense held Buford to a three-and-out, forcing a punt. The Bruins then went 51 yards in three plays, with senior quarterback Shaq Williams darting 28 yards for the score.
“It helped us that we had some fresher legs in there and their defense was on the field a great deal,” McMurray said. “We were able to get a good flow going and found an offensive rhythm with our running game.”
Lancaster, after holding Buford again, struck in a hurry. This time, junior running back Hayzier Gladden, who rushed for 106 yards in eight carries, did the damage in two plays. Gladden dashed 48 yards on the opening play from the BHS 49 to the Jackets’ one. A snap later, he banged in for the score from a yard out for a 20-0 lead with 5:14 left in the half.
Buford was down, but the scrappy Jackets battled, driving to the LHS 30 behind the tough running of senior back Scott Catledge, who ran for 74 yards on 15 carries. Catledge’s 21-yard run to the LHS 30 set up a Tyler Jenkins’ 47-yard field goal try which was blocked by Bruins’ junior defensive lineman Donte Spates to cap the half.
“We were just trying to gain some momentum going into the half,” Buford coach Mike Wells said. “Our guys were playing hard and we were looking for something to give us a boost.
“In that second-period spurt, we didn’t tackle well and they made some plays,” Wells said.
The Jackets, after halting Lancaster on its first possession of the final half, struck with the help of a big play.
Buford running back Timmy Blackmon, on a third-and-eight reverse, dashed 79 yards to the LHS one-yard line to set up quarterback C.J. Blackmon’s one-yard sneak to make it 20-6.
Lancaster, finding its first half flow, answered with three pivotal scores.
Gladden, in his top effort to date, finished a seven-play, 67-yard drive with a 13-yard scoring run with 4:05 to play in the third period. Junior receiver Immanuel Ishmael had two catches for 28 yards to aid the scoring drive. Roman’s kick gave LHS a 27-6 lead.
The Bruins sealed the win with a pair of fourth-quarter scores.
Williams’ 16-yard keeper ended a 79-yard scoring drive, with Daulton Willis’ kick extending the LHS edge to 33-6 with 8:41 to play.
Lancaster converted a Spates’ fumble recovery into its final points, with junior signal-caller Kaderrious Jackson bolting 13 yards for the touchdown.
“We needed this win,” McMurray said. “We’re going on the road for three straight weeks, so I hope it gives us some momentum. What we need to do is come back next week and have a good week of practice to keep us moving forward. Buford played us tough and it’s only going to get tougher with our schedule.”
Buford’s Wells said he couldn’t fault the Jackets’ effort.
“I told them to hold their heads up when they walked out of here,” Wells said. “I thought we played hard and gave good effort all night and that’s all I can ask for.
“We could have folded at the half with it 20-0, but we hung in there and fought to the final second.
“Lancaster just had more bodies and more athletes tonight,” Wells said. “I told our guys to put this one behind us and move on, but I’ll take that kind of effort each time we play.”
Buford hits the road to North Central to face the winless Knights, who dropped a 42-14 home loss to Andrew Jackson.
Lancaster launches a three-week road trip as the Bruins venture to Pontiac to face 3-1 Spring Valley, a 63-44 loser to Lexington High on Friday night in Lexington.