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FOOTBALL: Tigers suffer first region loss in nail biter against Cherokee Bluff
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Isaiah Grindle working for a chunk of his 119 rushing yards during the 28-27 loss to Cherokee Bluff on November 6. - photo by Paige Sweany for the Dawson County News

The Dawson County Tigers lost against the undefeated Cherokee Bluff Bears 28-27 on Nov. 6 for their first region loss of the season. 

The Tigers found themselves up 20-14 at halftime, but were unable to continue scoring at a quick rate in the second half. Cherokee Bluff blocked a field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter to secure their victory.


“We had opportunities but we couldn’t come up with them and they won,” Dawson County head coach Sid Maxwell said after the game. “We were around their end zone three or four times but we got shut out. You got to be able to seal the deal.”

Cherokee Bluff's Jayquan Smith ran the ball for 303 yards, scoring all four of the Bears' touchdowns. 

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Jaden Gibson catches a pass during the 28-27 loss to Cherokee Bluff on November 6. - photo by Paige Sweany for the Dawson County News
Dawson County took the lead early after the Bears’ quarterback Sebastian Irons threw an interception that Tiger defender Kade Moledor returned for a touchdown. After the Bears failed to score on the following possession, the Tigers' moved the ball effectively down the field until quarterback Zach Holtzclaw fumbled on the one-yard line. 

Smith scored his first touchdown of the game the next drive. Dawson County responded with a kickoff return for a touchdown by Isaiah Grindle to end the first quarter. 

Defense reigned supreme to start the second quarter, but kicker Caleb Bonesteel converted two field goal attempts and barely missed a 49-yard attempt. The Tigers ran into the locker room at halftime with a 20-14 lead. 

The Bears started the second half with a 13-play drive that ended in Smith's third touchdown of the night, giving them their first lead of the game. However, the Tigers refused to disappear. Grindle ran the ball for 63 yards on the Tigers' first play and Conley Dyer found the end zone on the next. Grindle ran for 119 yards in the game. 

The Tigers led 27-21 at the end of the third quarter. After a Tigers’ punt, Smith scored his third touchdown of the game with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers once again refused to give up. Two facemask penalties against the Bears and 18 rushing yards by Conley Dyer helped drive the ball down the field for a 38-yard field goal attempt to take the lead with 4 minutes left in the game. 

A Bears’ defender got a hand on Bonesteel’s attempt, sending the ball wobbling to the left side of the goal post. The Tigers’ defense remained tough, pushing the Bears to a fourth down and inches to go with just 1:48 left in the game. After another hand off to Smith, the referee’s mark was just a few inches past the first down marker. Maxwell was out of time outs, securing the victory for the Bears. 

The loss moves Dawson County to third in the 7-3A region standings behind Cherokee Bluff and North Hall, who will play each other next week. Both teams are undefeated in region play. 

The (4-4, 3-1) Tigers will travel to Lumpkin County High School to battle the (0-8, 0-4) Indians on Nov. 13.