Buford outlasts Lee County in overtime to win 6A State Championship
Photo Credit: Albany Herald (Dale Zanine)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA— The Buford vs. Lee County 6A State Championship matchup was considered by many to be one of the best games of the 2020 high school football season in the state of Georgia. For both teams, this game was not about concluding their season with a state championship, but also adding to the legacy of their program. The Buford Wolves came into the game looking for their 2nd straight state championship. The Wolves moved up to 6A after winning the 5A state championship last season, and were also looking to win their 13th state championship in the last 20 years. On the other hand, Lee County was looking to win their 3rd state championship in the past four years, and improve their program record to 53-5 since 2017. No matter who were to win this year’s 6A State Championship game, it would certainly help separate themselves among the best high school football programs in Georgia.
Buford started the game off strong, as CJ Clinkscales returned the opening kickoff to the Lee County 49-yard line. However, after a touchdown run by Dylan Wittke was called back due to an illegal shift penalty, the Wolves were brought to fourth and 5. They tried to convert, but an incomplete pass forced Buford to give Lee County the ball at their own 44-yard line. After Lee County was brought to a fourth down, the Trojans attempted a field goal, but missed wide left, and the Wolves took over at their own 20-yard line. The Wolves got their offense going once again, but the Lee County secondary was able to come up with a stop on 3rd down to force a punt. But the Buford defense had an answer, as linebacker Malik Spencer came up with an interception to give the ball to the offense at their own 41-yard line. After running back, Victor Venn, ran for a big 38-yard gain to the Lee County 9-yard line, the first quarter ended with the score 0-0.
The Wolves entered the second quarter with great field position, and they used to that to their advantage. Although the Lee County defense forced 4th and goal at their own 1-yard line, Buford quarterback, Ashton Daniels, was able to push through the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown to put the Wolves up 7-0 (PAT good).
Lee County answered, as running back and South Carolina signee, Caleb McDowell, took the kick return 95 yards to the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game at 7 (PAT good). The Wolves offense kept going, as on their next possession, Ashton Daniels found Isaiah Bond for a deep pass and a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead (PAT good).
Caleb McDowell kept Lee County neck and neck with Buford on their next possession. After taking the kick return to the Buford 32-yard line, McDowell ran up the middle untouched for a 32-yard touchdown to tie the game again (PAT good). Gabe Ervin kept the momentum going for the Buford offense on their next possession with a 24-yard pick up to their own 39-yard line. Ervin is signed to play at Nebraska. The Lee County defense came up with the stop, led by linebacker Baron Hopson, to force a punt. However, a fake punt by Buford led to an incomplete pass to turn the ball over, and give the Trojans the ball. After Buford forced a 4th down and 6, Lee County decided to go for it. The Trojans were able to convert, as Chauncey Magwood completed a pass to Jevelle Fugerson at the Buford 18-yard line. Lee County was brought to 4th down again, was unable to convert, and went into halftime with the game tied at 14.
Lee County found a rhythm on offense to start the second half. After Caleb McDowell caught a pass for a 1st down to the Buford 35-yard line, Magwood found Jevelle Fugerson for a 50-yard touchdown to put the Trojans up 21-14 (PAT good). The Trojans transferred their momentum to the defense, forcing 4th down and 5 and a Buford punt to give the offense the ball at their own 36-yard line. Magwood kept the rhythm going, as he found David Goodwin for a big gain to the Buford 20-yard line. The Wolves controlled the Lee County offense, however, as they brought up 4th down and 16. The Trojans were forced to attempt a 43-yard field goal, in which was no good, and Buford took over at their own 20-yard line. The Buford offense then found a rhythm, as they marched down the field to the Lee County 34-yard line. CJ Clinkscales capped off the drive, breaking tackles for a 34-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21 (PAT good). After Lee County got the ball back, and Caleb McDowell broke free for a long run to the Buford 25-yard line, the third quarter ended with the score tied at 21.
Although Lee County started the fourth quarter with great field position, the Trojans were brought to 4th down and 3. So they were forced to attempt a 24-yard field goal, which was good, and Lee County took a 24-21 lead. Buford had an answer, as the Wolves ran down the field all the way to the Lee County 7-yard line. The Trojan defense didn’t let them get in the end zone, forcing a fourth down and goal. Buford then attempted a 22-yard field goal, and they tied the game at 24.
After both teams were forced to punt on their next possession, Lee County regained their offensive rhythm, as Chauncey Magwood led the Trojans to the Buford 27-yard line. Magwood then capped off the drive on 3rd down and 4 with a rushing touchdown to put Lee County up 31-24 (PAT good).
In order to keep their state championship hopes alive, Buford had to score on their next drive. Quarterback, Ashton Daniels, was going to be the one to lead the Wolves to the end zone, as he helped Buford come from behind to win the 5A State Championship. The Wolves went down the field all the way to the Lee County 16-yard line. Daniels then tied the game at 31 with a huge 16-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Bond (PAT good). Lee County then ran out the clock, ready to send the game to overtime.
Buford started overtime with the ball, and the Lee County defense protected the end zone, forcing a 25-yard field goal attempt. The field goal attempt was good, and Buford took a 34-31 lead. Lee County had their chance to win the game next. Chauncey Magwood pushed for a 1st down on 3rd and 5 to the Buford 4-yard line. However, Caleb McDowell fumbled while running the ball on the next play, and the Buford defense recovered, and won the 6A State Championship.
Buford ends their great season with a 13-1 record, and as back-to-back state champions. After tonight’s state championship win, the Wolves solidified themselves as not only one of the best teams in Georgia this season, but one of the best high school football programs in the state. Lee County finishes their season at 12-2. Although the Trojans did not end their season the way they had hoped, they are still one of the best teams in Georgia this season.