Buford survives over Langston Hughes with 21-20 win, secures 3rd straight state championship
Photo Credit: Gwinnett Daily Post (David McGregor)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA— Last season, the Buford Wolves won the 6A state championship in just about the most thrilling way possible. The Wolves defeated Lee County 34-31 in overtime after recovering a fumble by the Trojans. As expected, Buford made it back to the state championship. They’ve been tested all season, as they came into the game with one loss to Chaminade-Madonna Prep out of Florida. This game was nothing short of another challenge for the Wolves.
The Langston Hughes Panthers came into the state championship matchup with their best team in program history. The Panthers had never been to a state championship, and had a lot to prove. They looked to take down a giant to secure their first state championship, but Buford knows how to handle adversity. When adversity hit them tonight, they stayed true to themselves, and did what they do best.
Hughes forced a three and out on Buford’s first possession, and went right to work. Running back, Antonio Martin, led the Panthers down the field to the Buford 44-yard line. Quarterback, Prentiss “Air” Noland, then found wide receiver, Armani Tookes, for a 33-yard touchdown to give Hughes an early 7-0 lead (PAT good).
Buford then found some momentum. Quarterback, Ashton Daniels, began connecting with his receivers, and led the Wolves to the Hughes 14-yard line. However, Hughes cornerback, Rodney Shelley, intercepted a pass from Daniels, and returned it to the 50-yard line to end the first quarter.
Antonio Martin kept his foot on the gas to start the second quarter. The Georgia Tech commit ran right through the Buford defense for an 8-yard score, extending the Panthers’ lead to 14-0 (PAT good). The Buford run game then got the Wolves to the Langston Hughes 46-yard line, but the Panther defense held them from there.
After both teams traded punts, Ashton Daniels got Buford going once again. Daniels found Isaiah Bond for a big first down to the Hughes 19-yard line, and connected with Ryan McKinnis to bring up 1st and goal at the 3-yard line. Running back, CJ Clinkscales, capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown, making the score 14-7 heading into halftime (PAT good).
The Buford defense continued bringing intensity into the second half, forcing a punt on Hughes’ first drive. Daniels went down field with his receivers once again. The Stanford commit connected with his Alabama commit receivers, as he found Jake Pope for a big first down on 3rd and 20 to the Hughes 34-yard line, and he found Isaiah Bond for a first down to the 7-yard line. Daniels then kept it himself for a 1-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 (PAT good).
Hughes wasn’t done yet, however. Antonio Martin led the Panthers to the Buford 39-yard line after an 11-yard gain. He then finished the drive himself, finding a hole and running into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown (PAT no good). The third quarter ended with Hughes up 20-14.
Both teams traded punts to start the fourth quarter, but CJ Clinkscales gave Buford a spark with a 1st down run to the 47-yard line. After Daniels found KJ Bolden for a 1st down to the Hughes 36-yard line, he then made arguably the biggest play of the game for the Wolves, as he found wide receiver, Tobi Olawole, for a 34-yard touchdown, giving Buford a 21-20 lead (PAT good).
Langston Hughes’ season depended on this next drive. Prentiss Noland got it started with a 17-yard gain for a 1st down to their 35-yard line, and Antonio Martin converted on 4th and 1 to the 46-yard line. After a pass interference on Buford pushed the Panthers to the Buford 46-yard line, Noland found tight end, Jelani Thurman, for a big 1st down to the Buford 18-yard line. However, time was ticking, and they had to attempt a field goal in order to secure the win and the state championship.
A field goal attempt was a huge gamble for the Panthers, as they had not attempted a field goal all season. Kicker, Alan Gonzalez, was set to attempt a 35-yard field goal to give Langston Hughes their first state championship in program history, but it was no good. Buford survived, secured an exciting 21-20 state title win, and extended their state championship streak to 3 years in a row.
Buford has won the past two Georgia 6A state championships, and they have won three state championships in a row with their 5A state title in 2019. The Wolves end their season with a 14-1 record. Langston Hughes ends their season with a 13-2 record, making this Panthers team the best in program history.