The Dawson County Tigers came up short Friday night in their attempt to defend their region title at home against Greater Atlanta Christian.
The Tigers were unable to find answers for the Spartan offense and lost 42-7.
The Region 7-AAA runners up struggled to sustain drives from early on and the Spartans relied on the running of junior Kyler McMichael and the arm of Stanford commit Davis Mills.
The Tigers opening drive saw completions to from Coey Watson to Nasser Clark and Luke Martin, but they were unable to sustain it.
The first outing for the Spartans' offense was a three and out, but that was rare for the night as GAC would score with 3:37 in the first quarter on a Mills 58-yard pass to Harrison Sloan.
The next Spartan possession was powered by McMichael's running behind the GAC offensive line. Mills connected with Jake Floyd on a fourth and one from the 4-yard line to make it 14-0 in the second.
GAC started their next possession with great field position after punter Nick Murphy barely had time to get the punt off for the Tigers.
From the 44, the Spartans moved quickly on completions to Trey Morrison and Floyd before Mills would find Sloan again wide open for the touchdown. The Spartans led 21-0 with 8:32 until the half.
The following possession for the Tigers looked to be another three and out when Murphy pulled the ball down and ran on a fake punt. Murphy got the first down at the 32-yard line.
An incompletion and a sack for a loss, however, would kill the momentum and force a punt.
The Dawson County defense quickly returned the ball to Watson and crew on a Logan Barnes interception after getting some pressure on Mills in the backfield.
The Tigers drove from the 36-yard line to get into field goal territory, but the Peyton Allen attempt from 30 yards out was no good and the Spartans took over on downs.
On a second and 10, Mills was able to get off a screen pass under pressure resulting in a 68-yard touchdown by McMichael.
Dawson headed to half down 28-0.
The Dawson defense held after GAC received the kick to open the third quarter, but the offense struggled when Watson was sacked for a loss and Murphy would again have to punt it away.
The next GAC drive began at their own 39, but had no trouble marching up the field and putting another in on a McMichael run with 7:26 in the third. After the extra point, the Spartans held a 35-0 lead.
The GAC D held the Tigers again and the Dawson defense returned the favor after Clint Garrett wrapped up Mills on a keeper when the Spartans went for it on fourth and four.
Dawson took over at the 45 and got the run going with Taylor Cronan. Payton Myers scrambled for a touchdown on a fourth and three to put the Tigers on the board in the fourth quarter.
Excitement quickly fizzled after Mills had a long completion to Sloan from their own 33. Mills would hit Jeffrey Blake two downs later to make it 42-7.
Dawson County moves to 8-2 overall and 5-1 in region as runners up.
Coach Sid Maxwell told the team after the game: "You played your hearts out. You are a good football team."
He also emphasized that it is now a new season as the Tigers will play host in next week's first round of the Class AAA state tournament.
"They are coming to our house," he said.