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FOOTBALL: Tigers win season opener through third quarter barrage
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Dominic LeBlanc celebrates after scoring the second of his two touchdowns against Jackson County. - photo by Rio White

Down 14-6 to Jackson County halfway through the third quarter, the Dawson County football team needed a spark to turn around a home opener that had gone stagnant. 

Two minutes — and 22 points later — they were suddenly leading by two scores and in control of the game.

A combination of improved offensive execution and a determined defense catapulted the Tigers to a lead they would not give up, winning 28-21 on Senior Night to begin the 2022 season. 

“It’s always [about] staying in the race,” head coach Sid Maxwell said. “When you’re playing your first football game, you’re going to have a lot of unknowns. The boys played hard.”

Seniors from the football team, cheer squad, marching band and color guard were all recognized before the game and were given a walkthrough on the field.

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Soon after the visiting Panthers opened the third quarter with their second touchdown of the game, the Tigers responded in kind with a deep touchdown pass from Davis Glass to Dominic LeBlanc.

Having missed an extra point earlier in the game, Dawson County attempted and failed a two-point conversion and the score stood at 14-12.

But after Jackson County was forced into a punting situation on their ensuing possession, a botched snap sailed through their own end zone, resulting in a safety and tied game.

The Glass to LeBlanc connection would immediately be used again, with the two finding each other for a touchdown pass on the first play after gaining post-safety possession. 

“It just takes one or two [passes] to help you get ahead and that’s what happened tonight,” Maxwell said. “We [had to] grind it out.”

Now in the lead, Dawson’s defense increased the pressure on Jackson’s quarterback on their next drive, forcing a bad pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Christian Webb.

After that whirlwind two minutes of game time, the game would settle down and the Dawson offense would revert to the running game to help burn time off the clock. 

Jackson County would score one more touchdown before the game ended but the Tigers defense stood firm to keep them in the lead.

Before the offensive outburst in the third quarter, the defense had been the main storyline of the game. 

With the exception of the two plays that resulted in Panthers touchdowns, the Dawson defense had been constantly placing pressure on the opposing quarterback, forcing multiple early turnovers with several more close calls. 

By the end of the game, the Tigers had forced three interceptions and two fumbles.

“I thought our defense really did a good job,” Maxwell said. “I think we had more turnovers this game than we did all last year. Our secondary did a good job bouncing back from the North [Forsyth] game.”

The game began with Dawson using the running game to take an early 6-0 lead on a pitch to Elijah Smith. Regaining possession following a forced fumble, the Tigers took over in scoring territory only to fumble the ball into the end zone for a touchback. 

While Jackson was kept off the scoreboard for a while, the Dawson offense could not capitalize on turnovers and good field position — the latter created by Smith on a couple of long returns. 

The Panthers took their first lead of the game with just over a minute left in the second quarter and led 7-6 at halftime. 

Neither team began the second half with much momentum until Jackson broke through on a sprawling touchdown catch. From that point, Dawson found their second gear and mounted a comeback victory.

Next up, the Tigers face Maxwell’s former team Lambert, with the Longhorns hosting the Tigers for a 7:30 p.m. matchup on Friday, Aug. 26.


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