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Late strike lifts Jackets by Vols

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By Robert Howey

KERSHAW – In a game with more twists and turns than a Tour de France mountain course, game Buford rallied with a dramatic touchdown pass to Qua Reid from Will Ford with 20.3 seconds left to defeat Andrew Jackson 28-21 Thursday night at Volunteer Stadium.Andrew Jackson, at the BHS 21 and up 21-20, appeared poised to take the win with 2:15 left.The Vols faced third and less than a yard for a first down. Two successive runs were blunted by a fired-up Yellow Jacket defense and the Vols turned the ball over on downs.“That stand was a key part of the game,” Buford coach Mike Wells said. “I applaud our team’s effort and the ability to keep hanging in there throughout the game.“It was a shame for either team to lose tonight with both teams playing extremely hard,” Wells said. “Coach Clyburn and the AJ staff have done a great job and they will win a lot of games this year.”On Buford’s game-winning drive, Reid had a key 22-yard reception to go along with the 11-yard game-winning TD grab.The decisive drive was aided by a personal foul against AJ when Ford attempted to spike the ball to stop the clock. The penalty, with 37 seconds left, put the ball at the AJ 21. BHS tight end Andrew Riner then made a clutch grab for 10 yards at the AJ 11 to set up the Reid touchdown.“We have to be more disciplined as a team,” said new AJ coach Louis Clyburn. “We played with great effort, but give coach Wells and Buford credit for making the plays when they needed to, especially in the late stages.“We have to be a foot better as a team,” Clyburn said. “Obviously, the fourth-down stop was a critical part of the game.”AJ, 0-2, opened the game with a five-play, 65-yard scoring drive. Vols’ senior quarterback Daniel Pardue found senior Daniel Wright down the middle for a key 47-yard reception to the BHS 18. Two plays later, Pardue hit junior receiver Ryan Miller on a 15-yard slant for the initial score. Tyler Stroud kicked the extra point for the Vols.Buford responded with a six-minute, 10-play scoring drive that covered 60 yards. Ford, back under center after missing the BHS opener with an injury, capped the drive with a yard plunge. Chris Jacobs added the extra point to tie the score, 7-7.After BHS senior linebacker Andrew Riner picked off an errant Pardue pass at the AJ 31, Chris Jacobs finished the eight-play, 31-yard drive with a nine-yard rumble around left end. Jacobs’ kick upped the Jackets lead to 14-7 with 11:54 left in the half.The Vols knotted the score at halftime with a beautiful 75-yard scoring strike from Pardue to a streaking Justin Sellers with 3:06 left in the half.The Jackets wasted little in scoring as they marched 69 yards in eight plays to open the second half. Senior Brent McAteer carried the majority of the load, as he picked up 33 yards on five carries during the drive, including a one-yard TD blast to give Buford a 20-14 lead early in the second half. McAteer ran for 92 yards on 21 attempts for the game.“Brent McAteer and Will Ford made clutch plays for us tonight,” Wells said.Ford finished with a 7-23 completion record for 88 yards, including the game-winner to Reid. Ford also ran for 17 yards on six attempts.Riner had a key catch on the last drive and also a pick in the first half. Riner caught two passes for 20 yards.Near the midpoint of the fourth quarter, AJ started an eight-play scoring drive from the AJ 49. Pardue lofted a perfect fade from the BHS 16 that Miller pulled down for the tying touchdown. Stroud’s kick gave the Vols the 21-20 lead with five minutes left.Buford, buoyed by its late stand, then made its game-winning drive with Reid’s clutch catch from Ford sealing the issue.The Yellow Jackets host county foe Lancaster High on Friday in a clash of unbeatens. AJ entertains Class A North Central. Both kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.