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For The Lancaster News
BUFORD – Buford High School head football coach Mike Wells couldn’t recall the Jackets’ last win over Great Falls, but what he did know was that BHS produced a banner effort in taking its latest win over GFHS, a 27-7 home victory over the Red Devils on Friday night.
Buford’s last win over the Red Devils came in 2005 when GFHS posted a 17-14 home win.
Matters didn’t look so swell early on as the Jackets, with a breakdown in its kickoff team, gave the Red Devils favorable field possession with the ball at the BHS 21-yard line.
Six plays later on a third-down snap, Great Falls quarterback Clark Schofield hit Ernest Talford on an eight-yard touchdown pass with 9:41 to play in the first quarter.
Brayden Carnes’ extra point put the Red Devils up, 7-0.
Buford had an answer as Jackets’ senior running back Jay Chambers highlighted a four-play, 65-yard scoring drive with a 47-yard touchdown run. Chambers ran for 94 yards in seven carries.
“I thought our offensive line really stepped up and played well tonight,” Wells said. “They gave us some good running lanes and our backs ran hard.”
The Jackets took the lead for good in the second period when BHS senior workhorse fullback Scott Catledge blasted in from two yards out to end a seven-play, 27-yard drive with 8:18 to play in the second quarter. Tyler Jenkins, who scored nine points, added the second of three extra points for a 14-7 BHS lead.
Catledge, on the muggy night, ran for 146 yards in 16 carries.
The Jackets’ go-ahead scoring march was highlighted by C.J. Blackmon’s 16-yard pass to senior running back Donnie Duncan on a third-and-14 play.
“We needed a big play there and Donnie gave us a lift,” Wells said. “Donnie along with Catledge and Marcus Brown played well on defense, and Donnie gave us a clutch catch on that second scoring drive. That’s the way we have to play with good play from a host of players.”
Buford, rallying from the early deficit, built a 14-7 lead at the break.
Buford took control in the second half, behind its special teams, defense and offense.
“When those three areas click, it improves your chances at a win,” Wells said.
The Jackets’ special teams and offense were responsible for a pair of Jenkins’ field goals.
Jenkins’ 30-yard field goal at the 7:31 mark put BHS up 17-7 to finish off a seven-play, 62-yard march.
Early in the final period, the Jackets, with their ball-control offense churning out yardage and consuming the clock, probed 92 yards in 13 snaps to set up Jenkins’ 37-yard field goal for a 20-7 lead.
“Our defense blanked Great Falls for the final three quarters and our offense responded by controlling the clock and getting us in position for Tyler to kick a pair of field goals.
“You always want to score touchdowns, but we were productive and taking time off the clock and Tyler responded with key field goals,” Wells said.
Any Red Devils’ hopes of a comeback were quelled by Jackets’ junior linebacker Josh Mullens who picked off a Schofield pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown with 3:23 to play.
“Our kids played hard and gave good effort,” Wells said. “A key to our defensive effort was Mikeem McKinney, who did an outstanding job on Xavier Holmes tonight.”
Holmes finished the night with two catches for 19 yards and Great Falls had 150 yards total offense.
“That’s a top-notch effort on an outstanding offensive football team,” Wells said. “They have some weapons and big-play people, but we were able to keep them in check by forcing four turnovers.
“That had a lot to do with our success,” he said. “Our defensive coaches deserve a great deal of credit for having our guys prepared and ready to play. What we did in practice this week paved the way for success Friday.”
Wells said the Jackets will need another outstanding effort next Friday when they host Central of Pageland to open their Conference IV-AA schedule.
The No. 9 Eagles, 3-2, dropped a 28-6 road loss to Class A foe Chesterfield on Friday night.