It took an extra two periods before the Dawson County Tigers could put away Lumpkin County last Friday night at Tiger Stadium. A fumble by Indian quarterback Daniel Abercrombie, his sixth of the game, in double overtime allowed Dawson to come away with a 26-23 win.
Dawson County Head Coach Jeff Lee remarked about the big win over his team’s arch-rival, “It was such a big win for us. Not only was it the first game of the year, but it was against Lumpkin. The game was like a roller coaster. The last two years I don’t know if we would have pulled it out. I’m very proud of the way our kids fought.”
Dawson County jumped out to a 16-0 lead with 10:19 remaining in the second quarter. It looked as if the Tigers would cruise to an easy win. Lumpkin Coach Tommy Jones and his Indian squad never gave up and came back to tie the game at 16-16 with 1:10 left in the game to send it to overtime.
The Tigers opened the scoring on a blocked punt by Nick Tobias off the foot of Indian punter Ben Ayres. A mad scramble in the end zone resulted in a safety for Dawson, and a quick 2-0 lead with 5:20 remaining in the opening quarter.
“Our kids believe in what we are doing. Our special teams won the game for us against a really good ball club. We have been telling them all week that we could block a punt and Nick laid out perfect to get one,” said Lee.
Two series later Abercrombie fumbled at his own 19-yard line. Nick Tobias pounced on the ball setting up shop for Dawson. On third and 11 Tiger quarterback Chase Gilreath found wide receiver TJ Bryd in the seam for a Dawson touchdown. David Scully added the extra point and Dawson extended its lead to 9-0 with 1:25 left in the first.
“Our two quarterbacks, Ethan Brown and Chase Gilreath, managed the game well. They put us in situations to win the ball game. The change of pace that each one of them brings gets us a different rhythm on offense. I thought they played well,” Lee said of his offense.
Dawson’s defense forced a Indian punt on its next possession. Tiger returner Eian Perry fielded the ball at his own 35-yard line and raced down the left sideline for a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown. Scully once again added the extra point and Dawson seemed to have a commanding 16-0 lead.
“We played pretty well on defense,” said Lee. “We have to get better getting off the field with three and outs. They stayed out there too long.” he added.
Lumpkin County looked like they were in shock. Abercrombie coughed up the ball again on the second play from scrimmage into the hands of defensive lineman Zach Johnson.
The Indian defense rose to the occasion and after sacking Gilreath, forced Dawson to punt. Scully nailed a 34-yard punt down to the Indian 18-yard line.
Lumpkin then turned the momentum in its favor, marching 14 plays in five minutes to cut the lead in half 16-8. Abercrombie scored on a quarterback sneak from 1-yard out and after a successful 2-point conversion by fullback Haden Rider the Indians were back in the game.
The game was a defensive struggle after halftime. Both teams exchanged punts before Dawson took over with 6:18 left in the third. The Tigers moved the ball from their own 13-yard line to Lumpkin’s 15-yard line before stalling on offense.
The highlight of the offensive series was a 46-yard run by Tiger halfback Cody Tobias. Scully attempt a field goal, but it sailed wide left.
Turnovers haunted Lumpkin again when Abercrombie fumbled for his third time on an attempted pitch to Chad Fulton. Dawson defensive lineman Matt Satterfield recovered to give Dawson the ball at the Indian 30-yard line.
Momentum changed once again as it seemed Dawson was going in for the kill.
Senior running back Evan Weatherford turned the ball over after a strong run up the middle. Lumpkin recovered at its own 15.
Abercrombie and his team mounted a drive down to Dawson’s 43-yard line, where on fourth and 10 they decided to fake a punt. The Tigers were on their toes and brought down runner Lance Chuvala a yard short.
At the 5:02 mark of the fourth quarter Lumpkin went on its tying touchdown drive.
Abercrombie used his arm and feet to engineer a 78-yard score. Abercrombie, who finished with 25 carries and 103 yards rushing, ran for 18 yards and completed 5 of 6 passes before hooking up with Fulton in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown. With the score at 16-14 in Dawson’s favor, and only 1:10 left in the game, Lumpkin decided to go for 2-points.
Fulton took a pitch from Abercrombie and seemed to toss the ball into the end zone where Lumpkin recovered. After much discussion by the officials it was ruled that Fulton had the ball knocked from his hands causing the fumble. The 2-point conversion was good and Lumpkin tied Dawson 16-16.
The game went into overtime.
In overtime, each team has an offensive possession, which begins on the opponent’s 15-yard line. The teams will continue this procedure until one team can stop their adversary.
In the first overtime the Indians scored on a 6-yard run by Jake McClure and Ben Ayers added the extra point to give Lumpkin County a 23-16 lead.
On Dawson County’s possession, Cody Tobias scored from 6-yards out and David Scully added the extra point, tying the game at 23-23.
In the second overtime, The Tigers were held to a field goal that put them in the lead 26-23. Scully barely cleared the cross bar from 27-yards out.
On the Indians possession, Dawson County’s Cody Tobias stripped the ball from Abercrombie and he and Nick Tobias fell on the ball to seal the win for Dawson.
“It was a textbook strip of the ball by Cody. We do that drill everyday on defense and tonight it worked,” said Lee.
Dawson and the capacity crowd at Tiger Stadium stormed the field to congratulate the players.
“The crowd was awesome this week. We probably had over 3,000 people in the stands. We need the same kind of fan support this week against Jefferson. They will bring a lot of people, so I advise everyone to get there early for a good seat,” commented Lee about this Friday’s game against Jefferson.
“They are a very fast football team. Coach Bill Navas does a great job coaching them and they have been in the state play-offs the last eight years. It will be a heck of a region opener,” Lee said about his upcoming opponents.
Lumpkin County will travel to Flowery Branch next week. Dawson County will entertain Jefferson at Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
E-mail Pam Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org.