By Brad Harrison
BUFORD - Brooks County head coach Ryan Branch was in an unenviable position Friday night, as he had to try and find a way to console his players after the Brooks County Trojans bowed out of the quarterfinal round of the GHSA Class AA state playoffs 36-21 beneath a drizzling rain in the shadow of the Mall of Georgia.
The Trojans end their season at 8-5 while Buford advanced to the state semifinals as the Wolves continue their quest for a fourth consecutive state title.
Dexter Wood said after the game that the Trojans were the best team his team has faced all season.
"We've overcome a lot of mistakes that we've made this season to get us this far," Branch said. "Our luck just ran out tonight."
After Buford outgunned the Trojans in the first half, leading 20-13 in the first quarter and 34-13 at the half, the game went from a first half track meet to a quagmire.
Both teams combined for more than 500 yards of offense and seven plays over 25 yards in the first half.
It was a contrast in the second half, as Buford's only second half points came on a safety.
"It looked like a track meet in the first half, those things aren't too much fun," Wood said.
The Trojans' lone score second half came with 1:18 to go on a 14-yard run by Brooks County quarterback Micah Edwards.
Edwards was 4-of-12 through the air for 110 yards with two interceptions.
Edwards wasn't the only Trojan to have a big offensive night that wasn't enough to stage an upset victory.
Donnell Golden's nine rushes for 89 yards that included an 80-yard run up the middle cut into an early 13-0 Buford advantage with 6:24 to go in the first.
But the Trojans didn't stay close to the Wolves for long, as Mark Standridge scored his second of three rushing touchdowns from four yards out for a 20-7 Buford lead.
Standridge gave the Trojan defense fits the entire game, gaining a gritty 101 yards on 29 tries.
But he wasn't the only Buford Wolf to torment the visitors from Quitman, as quarterback Justin Roper torched Brooks County in the first half for 153 yards as he went 4-of-9 for 153 yards on the night.
"You've got to be on you're A-game against these folks," Branch said.
The first of those passes came on the Wolves' first offensive drive, as a 62-yard scoring strike on third down from the Buford 38 gave the home team an early 6-0 advantage.
But despite trailing by two touchdowns throughout most of the first quarter, the Trojans didn?t relent, cutting the Wolves' 20-7 lead to 20-13 on a six-yard run by Golden with 3:42 left in the half on a drive catapulted by Marcus Stroud's 66-yard run to the Buford 14.
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