Nov. 20—MOULTRIE — Buford's Class 7A honeymoon ended when the undefeated and top-ranked Wolves were upset by Walton 42-35 on Friday in a second-round playoff game.
It was the earliest exit from the playoffs for Buford since 1999 and the loss snapped the Wolves' 22-game winning streak.
Buford had won three straight state titles: the last two in Class 6A and the one in 2019 in Class 5A.
The Wolves, ranked No. 2 in the nation by High School Football America, had won 16 straight playoff games
The win sends the 9-2 Raiders to Carrollton next Friday for a quarterfinal game and a chance to meet the North Gwinnett-Colquitt County winner in one of the two Class 7A semifinals scheduled for Dec. 2.
The Raiders were led by quarterback Jeremy Hecklinski, who completed 21-of-38 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns.
The game was tied 21-21 heading into the fourth quarter. But in the final 12 minutes, Walton scored three touchdowns, two on Hecklinski passes, to stun the Wolves.
Hecklinski played briefly when Walton eliminated Colquitt County 41-17 in the first round of 2021 playoffs. Senior Zac Rozsman took most of the snaps against the Packers.
Colquitt County head coach Sean Calhoun said the surprising loss by the Wolves to a program that has never played for a state championship and has reached the semifinals just twice, should not be lost on his Packers, who will play host to North Gwinnett at home on Friday in a quarterfinal matchup.
"I hope that is a good lesson for our kids," said Calhoun. "You can't take anyone lightly."
Also on Friday, Westlake, coached by former Colquitt County assistant Rico Zackery, knocked off Parkview 30-28 to advance.
Mill Creek, ranked No. 3 in Class 7A, also advanced, pounding North Cobb 43-7 and earning a date with Westlake in another quarterfinal.
Camden County's comeback year ended at Grayson where the Wildcats were knocked off by the Rams 28-10.
Grayson will play Milton, which eliminated Norcross 30-23, in the other quarterfinal.
Two other Colquitt County opponents have qualified for the quarterfinals.
Stockbridge, which lost 29-0 to the Packers back on Aug. 26 in a game which lasted only two quarters because of poor weather, defeated Walnut Creek to advance in Class 4A.
The Tigers, now 10-2, will play Benedictine, also 10-2, next Friday.
Cedar Grove, which fell to the Packers 39-17 on Sept. 23, defeated Hebron Christian 70-33 on Friday and will advance in the Class 3A playoffs to meet 11-0 Calvary Day at home in the quarterfinals.
Lee County, another of Colquitt County's 12 victims, was eliminated by Woodward Academy 23-7 last Friday.
The Trojans, who had defeated Effingham County 57-7 in their playoff opener, finish 8-4.
Lincoln High of Tallahassee lost its playoff opener 29-6 to Columbia High of Lake City and finished 5-6.
Thomas County Central, under Justin Rogers, remains undefeated after beating St. Pius X 49-14.
The Yellow Jackets, who have scored 499 points this season, will be home to face 11-0 Roswell in the 6A quarterfinals on Friday.
In the last four years, including three at Colquitt County, Rogers has posted a record of 38-7.
Cook, under former Packers assistant Byron Slack, lost to Thomson 42-10 last Friday to end its season with an 8-4.
Slack is in his first season as the head coach in Adel.
Former Colquitt County assistant coach Robert Craft and his North Forsyth Raiders were pounded by Hughes on Friday 77-16 in a Class 6A quarterfinal.
The Raiders finish 8-4. The eight wins are the most for that program since 2005.