The first quarter proved to be too much for the Dawson County High School varsity football team to overcome Friday night.
The Tigers spotted the defending Class AA state runners-up Buford High School Wolves (4-3; 2-2) 21 points to begin the second quarter.
"It was 13-3 the rest of the way against them (Buford)," said Tiger head coach Jeff Lee. "We made some adjustments on defense and forced them into six, three and outs after the first quarter."
The Wolves had three scores early to jump out to a big lead against Dawson County.
Buford coach Jess Simpson's team recorded touchdowns off of a punt return, touchdown run and touchdown pass to take a three touchdown lead into the second quarter.
Punt returner Thomas Wilson scored first for Buford after forcing Dawson County's offense into a three and out on its first possession.
Wilson picked up a rolling football and made several Tiger defenders miss on his way to the end zone.
With 10:51 remaining in the first quarter, Buford held a 7-0 lead.
"Our guys thought the Buford returner had called a fair catch," Lee said. "He just picked up the punt and scored."
Dawson's offense was stopped again on its next possession, forcing a second punt.
Five plays later Buford was back in the end zone.
Running back Donte Gordon scored from six yards out, giving Buford a 14-0 advantage.
After another Dawson punt, it took the Wolves only five more plays to score their third touchdown. Quarterback Montgomery VanGorder found Tre Neal from 32-yards out for a touchdown pass.
It was 21-0 with 3:16 remaining in the first quarter.
"We talk about winning the first 5 minutes of the game and winning the last 5 minutes of the half," Simpson said. "If you look at the start of the game, the end of the half, and the start of the third quarter, we were really dominant."
Lee said he was proud that his team didn't back down from the tough opponent.
"Our players didn't back down. We forced them to punt six times after the first quarter. I'm proud of our kids for not backing down," he said. "We dropped three passes, with two of them being touchdowns. We have to make those plays."
Lee added: "Buford had three explosive plays against us. We made them work for everything they got after the first quarter."
The Tigers finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter after putting together the team's best drive of the game.
The Tigers took the ball down to Buford's 17-yard line before settling for a 34-yard field goal from Max Muldoon.
Dawson County gained 198 total yards on offense for the game.
Quarterback Tyler Dominy was 19-for-43 for 175 yards passing. The Tigers managed only 23-yards on the ground.
"Buford's depth is unbelievable," Lee said. "To our players credit they had to keep their starters in until about 4 minutes to play."
Coach Lee praised the play of several of his players after Friday night's game.
He said he really liked the blocking of linemen Eli Brown, Corbin Thomas, Cole Waters and Mason Bennett.
"These players really blocked well for us up front," Lee said.
Zach Martin led the Tigers with 16 tackles on defense.
"I also thought defensive lineman Brandon Tenorio played a great game for us," Lee said.
Jackson Putnam also had a good game according to Lee.
Up next for Dawson County is a huge game against Region 7-AAA foe White County on Friday night.
Coach Bill Ballard's Warriors come into the game with a 4-3 overall record and a region record of 2-2.
White County has lost the last two games. Once to North Hall, 42-7, last Friday night and to Buford, 49-14, two weeks ago.
"This is a big game for us," Lee said. "Realistically the winner of this game will get third place in the region. This is a big game for both teams. We really need a big crowd here this week to cheer us on."
Lee said game management will be a big key to the outcome of Friday's game.
"The keys for the game are for us to manage the clock and keep their offense off the field. We cannot afford too many three and outs against a good team like White County. White County has a good quarterback and a good fullback. Their offensive line is also very good."
Dawson County is currently 4-3 overall and 2-2 in Region 7-AAA play.