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For The Lancaster News
PAGELAND – Buford ventured to Pageland on Friday night hoping to build off its region-opening win over Andrew Jackson last week.
The Yellow Jackets, 3-4, 1-1, knew the challenge against the eighth-ranked Eagles would be tough.
“Central is never easy, and year-in and year-out, they are one of the best in Class AA football,” BHS coach Mike Wells said. “This year is no exception.”
Buford started strong.
After forcing the Eagles’ opening drive into three downs and out, the BHS defense forced to punt.
The Jackets, taking advantage of good field position, were aggressive early.
From the Central 42, the Jackets began a solid eight-play scoring drive.
BHS, mixing the plays well, moved the ball through the air as well as on the ground.
The Jackets struck first on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Tripp Wright to Josh Mullens.
Donovan Lang added the extra point and Buford led 7-0.
The Jackets’ lead was short-lived.
The Eagles, on their next possession, launched a methodical 80-yard, clock-eating drive which culminated with Quan Welch taking it in from 19 yards out for the score.
The point-after was true and the game was tied at 7-all.
As the game moved into the second quarter, the Jackets’ offense began to sputter.
CHS, 5-2, 2-0, also began asserting its defense.
On the Jackets’ second possession of the quarter, they were forced to punt from their 38. Central’s Timothy Hodges blocked the Mullens’ attempt and the Eagles recovered at the BHS 11.
Two plays later, DaQuan Baker ran in from two yards out for the Eagles’ score.
Mikeem McKinney blocked the CHS extra point and the Eagles led, 13-7.
The Jackets threatened before the end of the half, mixing it up offensively.
Buford, at the Central 16, faced a fourth-and-one, but a BHS offsides penalty made it fourth and six and the Jackets tried a 31-yard field goal.
The Lang kick sailed wide left and CHS took a 13-7 halftime lead.
“I thought we played a good half of football,” Wells said. “With the exception of the blocked punt, I was well-pleased.”
Both defenses played tough in a scoreless third quarter.
The final quarter opened with the Eagles driving deep into Jackets’ territory.
Facing a first and 10 from the 12, the Eagles’ Welch notched his second rushing touchdown of the game.
Joseph Rollings’ extra point was good and Central led 20-7.
The Jackets, stymied on offense, were forced to punt again and pinned the Eagles at their 17.
That didn’t seem to bother CHS running back Shamar Sutton.
On the first play, Sutton sprinted 83 yards for the touchdown. The point-after gave CHS a 27-7 lead on the way to the 20-point win.
“The kids played hard tonight,” Wells said. “I certainly can’t fault the effort. I thought we did some good things as far as not turning the ball over goes. We didn’t beat ourselves, rather we lost to a very good Central team.”
Buford is on the road Friday night for its final regular-season away game at Cheraw. The Braves, 2-0 in region play, downed host Andrew Jackson 32-20 on Friday night.