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FOOTBALL: Tigers ground game proves too strong for North Hall in rivalry win
Elijah Smith carries the ball down the field in the second quarter against North Hall. He would score Dawson's third touchdown of the game. - photo by Rio White

Strength in numbers — it’s something head coach Sid Maxwell has emphasized as a necessary part of his offense this season, specifically about his committee of running backs.

A trio of those backs helped Dawson County’s football team to a 30-13 road win over rivals North Hall, taking a 5-4 lead in the series between the two programs in the process. 

On a night that began with steady rain followed up by an intermittent mist, the rushing attack was always going to be the priority. Senior running back Kade Moledor got the Tigers out to a roaring start — setting the tone for a long night for the Trojans defensive line. 

“I think we came out [strong]. The line did a good job, backs hit the hole hard, we executed and played tough defense,” Maxwell said. “We have to run the ball [but] we threw the ball enough to keep [North Hall] honest.”

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The defensive effort was much improved from the Lambert game, with the Tigers forcing four fumbles out of North Hall and stopping the home team from establishing any momentum. 

After Moledor’s opening score, senior Matt Bennett broke away for 38 yards on the first of his two touchdowns on the night. He finished with 115 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Leading 13-0 after the first quarter, Dawson quickly charged up the field early in the second quarter through the elusiveness of Elijah Smith, who would score and extend the Tigers lead to 20-0.

Smith had several bursts of speed during the game, also finishing with 115 yards on the ground.

A field goal just before halftime put the visitors up 23-0, but a rare lapse from the Dawson defense allowed the Trojans to put themselves on the scoreboard on the final play of the first half.

“We made a mistake…they’re going to happen,” Maxwell said. “The secret is trying to overcome it and keep playing and I think our boys did that tonight. They played really well.”

And overcome they did. After giving up one more touchdown to begin the third quarter, the Tigers defense buckled down and helped seal the victory with their stifling pressure.

Later in the game, Bennett would score his second touchdown from short range, ensuring Dawson of an important bounce-back victory and momentum heading into their final non-region game of the season.

That game will be back at home comforts, with the Tigers hosting Stephens County on Friday, Sept. 9.

Overall, Maxwell was pleased with how the makeshift group of running backs made the most of their opportunities against North Hall. 

“We really didn't have anybody who was actually a running back for this year, so we had to make them,” Maxwell said. “They’re getting better and I’m happy for them.”