Last Friday’s home game for Dawson County was wrought with penalties and scoring, but the victory for the Tigers means they are undefeated in region play and have a chance to play for a region championship in just under two weeks.
The back and forth offensive battle with the East Hall Vikings ended with the Tigers on top at 56-48.
“It was a tough one, but we won,” said Head Coach Sid Maxwell. “It had a lot of good things, had a lot of chaos.”
The good things included junior running back Vaughn Clark blowing by the 1,000 yard mark on the season with 231 yards rushing and two touchdowns while senior quarterback Coey Watson managed to account for six touchdowns and an interception. Yes, an interception to end the game.
After a Vikings three and out on its opening possession, Dawson and East Hall would exchange interceptions to set the tone for the back and forth battle.
The third East Hall drive saw Austin Parker complete to Sedrion Morse on multiple downs before a deep post route that was broken up by the Tigers’ Noah Brock. On fourth and nine, a personal foul by East Hall would force a punt to the Tiger 2.
A flag on the Vikings for interference would help jumpstart the Tiger drive and Watson would begin his night with a run to the 30.
Watson would finish with 168 yards on the ground and go 5-for-8 for another 127 yards through the air. The Tigers had 446 yards of rushing.
The drive was capped with a Watson keeper to put Dawson on the board first. Peyton Allen’s extra point made it 7-0 with 2:05 in the opening period.
“Coey was what we have come to expect from him, tremendous” said Offensive Coordinator Andy LeBlanc. “We had planned to run him more this week and I think it was a big factor in the game.”
East Hall answered on its drive when Parker found Morse to even things up at 7 with 11:52 in the second.
“East Hall did a great job exposing our defense,” said Defensive Coordinator Brent Cox. “Austin Parker makes coaching difficult from our side of the ball.”
The next Tiger possession began from the 20 with a handoff to Cameron. Two plays later, Clark ran straight up the middle for 61 yards to the Viking 8-yard line.
Watson ran it in from the 1-yard line for his second rushing touchdown of the night.
Another Allen PAT made it 14-7 with 10:34 in the second.
The next Viking possession was riddled with penalties against Dawson that helped extend the drive for East Hall.
“We had four stops that resulted in giving them the ball and first downs,” Maxwell said. You are very fortunate to win against a good offensive team as they are, stop them four times and all four of those ended up with 28 points [for them].”
After a Logan Brumbelow sack for a loss, the Vikings were again able to keep the drive going courtesy of penalties.
Parker connected with Austin Brock to even things again at 14.
Noah Brock returned the ensuing kick to the 43-yard line and a face mask on East Hall would help the Tiger cause. A late hit penalty on the Vikings would give Dawson an even shorter field and Clark ran in his first of the night from 19 yards out.
With 3:02 in the half, it was 21-14 Dawson County.
The Tigers gave the Vikings a hand with another personal foul before Zac Baloga got a sack on Parker and Logan Barnes got a stop.
Harrison scored for the Vikings to make it 21 all at half.
“We played pretty sloppy defensively and they did some things to make us sloppy,” Maxwell said. “Because we couldn’t catch that quarterback.”
East Hall’s defense stopped the Tigers on the opening drive of the second half, but the Tiger D returned the favor when Brumbelow got a fumble recovery and swung the momentum back to Dawson County.
Watson kept the ball on the ground for the next drive and finished it off with a touchdown run from 23 yards out to make it 28-21 with 7:41 in the third.
The next Viking drive began with another blindside block by East Hall and a Baloga stop for the Tigers defense but on second and 10 Parker hit Mon Prather at the 44.
A Dawson interference on third and 16 would help the Viking drive and Baloga and TJ Wilson would sack Parker for a loss.
Despite long yardage on a third down, the Vikings continued the drive and ultimately scored on a completion to Harrison to tie it yet again.
“Defensively, our players were on the field all night and had many challenges to overcome. Am proud of the never quit attitude,” Cox said.
Another Brock return would start the Tigers at their own 30 and Clark would run repeatedly for Dawson. Watson again scored from inside the 2-yard line and turn the lead back to the Tigers at 35-28.
The next East Hall possession saw completions to Morse and Harrison before Harrison went down in the end zone after Brumbelow broke up a pass.
The game was stopped while Harrison left in an air cast and did not return.
The Vikings scored on the first play out of the injury timeout to make it 35 all.
An onside kick by East Hall was recovered by Dawson County and the offense started from the 50. Watson ran another in to make it 42-35 with 8:39 to play.
Dawson’s next drive began at the 25 and saw the only passing touchdown when Watson found Cameron for a 52-yard strike to take it to 49-35.
Three personal fouls against the Tigers helped the Vikings on their next drive that ended with a touchdown to make it 49-42.
Dawson would recover another onside kick and a Clark run to the Viking 26 set up another Tiger touchdown on a Clark run from 8 yards out. The Tigers led 56-42 with 1:21 to play.
The Vikings scored on their next possession and went for 2 but could not convert making it 56-48.
The next onside kick was recovered by East Hall.
Starting at the Tiger 35, the Vikings attacked repeatedly with Watson in on defense for the Tigers. At fourth and 10 with a few seconds left on the clock, Watson would pick off Parker’s last passing attempt to end the game.
“It was one of those games that we were blessed to come out on top and learn from it,” Maxwell said.
Dawson moves to 6-2 overall and now 4-0 in region play. They will travel to face Lumpkin County at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27.
“Lumpkin County is a big game for us every year,” LeBlanc said. “They play very physical and will be playing with a lot of confidence. We will need to be focused, take care of the football and limit penalties and negative plays.”