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Football: Tigers one play short of finishing off historic upset against South Forsyth
Before a War Eagle offensive snap in the September 18 game at Dawson County High School. - photo by Jacob Smith

In their third non-region match of the season, the Dawson County Tigers lost a heartbreaker to the 7A South Forsyth War Eagles 63-49 on Friday night. 

Tyler Lane and Max Moon celebrate Lane's touchdown reception in the 63-49 loss against South Forsyth. - photo by Jacob Smith

The Tigers started the game off with a three-and-out defensive stop and then drove down the field for the field goal attempt. Bonesteel’s attempt was blocked by the War Eagles.  

After the War Eagles quarterback, Kyle Durham, completed a 44 yard pass and a 29 yard rush, the War Eagles jogged into the end zone to take the 7-0 lead with 5:34 left in the first quarter. 

The lead would be short held after Zach Holtzclaw connected with Tyler Lane on the second play for the 51 yard touchdown to tie the game with 4:10 left in the quarter.

The War Eagles would respond with a 70 yard completion to Devin McGlockton on their first play of the drive. After a push off called against South Forsyth, Mitch Thompson caught the 20 yard pass for the touchdown with 2:50 left in the quarter. 

Isaiah Grindle jogging into the end zone to cap off a kickoff return for a touchdown in the Tigers' 63-49 loss against South Forsyth on September 18. - photo by Jacob Smith
Isaiah Grindle took matters into his own hands when he returned the kickoff for a touchdown to tie the game 14-14. The War Eagles would cap off 35 points scored by both teams in three minutes with an 84 yard touchdown rush by Thompson with 2:18 left in the quarter. 

The Tigers would still have the ball headed into the second quarter after converting two first downs on the ground. Holtzclaw would get sacked and stripped by the War Eagles. 

The War Eagles were unable to put any points up on the board, but the punt was downed at the two yard line. The punt would result in a safety for South Forsyth on the first play when Holtzclaw was sacked into the back of the end zone on the first play.

The War Eagles had another three-and-out but put the ball on the four yard line on another punt. The Tigers went for it on 4th and inches and were unable to convert, putting the War Eagles in great field position. However, the Tigers defense would stop them, and the War Eagles settled for a field goal, pushing the score to 26-14 with 3:11 left in the second quarter. 

Holtzclaw’s arm was on display once again, completing first downs to Lane and Max Moon before connecting with Jaden Gibson for the touchdown with just 1:29 left in the quarter. 

The half would end 26-21 in favor of the War Eagles, but not before head coach Sid Maxwell sent Bonesteel out to the field to attempt the rare free kick attempt as time expired. 

“We’re always trying to execute,” head coach Sid Maxwell said after the game when asked about running several unique plays. “They called a couple against us, but our guys never quit.”

The Tigers could not capitalize on receiving the ball to start the third quarter. Holtzclaw’s first pass attempt of the second half was intercepted by Austin Uidel and returned for a touchdown. A lob pass to McGlockton would convert the two point conversion to give the War Eagles the 34-21 lead. 

The Tigers would give the ball back to the War Eagles after the three-and-out, who would methodically drive down the field. Tre’von Green would run the ball into the end zone. Another two-point conversion by McGlockton would give South Forsyth the 42-21 lead with 6:49 left in the third quarter. 

Two immediate first down runs by Dakota Sonnichsen would put Holtzclaw in position to find Gibson in the end zone once again for the thirty yard touchdown. 

The War Eagles would keep the ball on the ground and run the clock out to end the third quarter. The first play of the fourth quarter would find McGlockton in the end zone again for a receiving touchdown, pushing the War Eagles lead to 49-28 to start the fourth quarter. 

Holtzclaw once again took charge of the offensive and quickly drove the ball back down the field to find Gibson for his third receiving touchdown of the game to bring the Tigers back within two scores with 9:26 left in the game. 

The drama would be nowhere close to over. With eight minutes left, Green of South Forsyth would fumble on a rushing attempt and would be recovered by Sonnichsen for the Tigers and returned for close to 30 yards. 

Defensive lineman Kinkade Weaver stares down the South Forsyth quarterback before the snap in Dawson County's 63-49 loss on Friday, September 18. - photo by Jacob Smith

The Tigers would pound the ball on the ground until Nic Baloga got into the end zone to bring the score to 49-42 with just 6:05 left in the game. Bonesteel’s onside attempt was recovered by the Tigers but the referee ruled that the ball did not go 10 yards, giving the War Eagles possession.

South Forsyth would once again put pressure on the Tigers defense on the ground. The War Eagles ended the drive with another rushing touchdown with just 2:32 left in the game, seemingly ending any hopes of a Tigers victory. 

The Tigers couldn’t move the ball on offense either, unable to convert, forcing a turnover on downs. However, strange play calls by South Forsyth had Durham throw the ball twice for incompletions on their next offensive possession. A clutch punt return by Sonnichsen put the Tigers in great field position. 

Holtzclaw would not miss Gibson in the endzone again for the duo’s fourth touchdown of the game, bringing the Tigers within one touchdown, down 56-49, with just 1:14 left in the game. 

Even though everybody in the stadium knew that Bonesteel would be attempting another onside kick, that was not enough to stop him from putting the ball right into the chest of Sonnichsen for the converted onside kick attempt. 

Gibson would run straight out of bounds after Holtzclaw found him on the first play of the drive. The next play would be another completion would go to Lane, but the Tigers would use their second time out of the half after not being able to get out of bounds. 

A slant route for Gibson would result in a first and goal reception with the clock stopping after targeting was called on the South Forsyth tackler, bringing the ball to the five yard line. 

A pass attempt tipped off Lane’s fingers in the endzone and a failed Sonnichsen rush attempt would make it third and goal with exactly 30 seconds left in the game. Holtzclaw looked for the hot hand in Gibson, but the ball would be tipped up in the air and land in the hands of Thompson, who ran the ball all the way back to his own endzone for the War Eagles’ second pick-six of the game and secured the 63-49 victory. 

The loss was the second close loss in a row for the Tigers against opponents of higher classification. Maxwell said after the game to his players that the team is continuing to get better and needs to keep improving before the start of region play. 

Maxwell had high praises for his offense after the game, specifically naming Holtzclaw and his receivers being especially in-sync throughout the game. Holtzclaw matched his five passing touchdowns last week against Flowery Branch with five more tonight. 

The Tigers will be on the road next week to play Northview High School in Johns Creek on Friday, September 25. This will be the last non-region game for the Tigers.