Under a hazy full moon the Dawson County High School varsity Tigers opened the 2015 football season with a loss to Forsyth Central.
With much anticipation the Tiger faithful filled the stands to see new coach Sid Maxwell, a new offense and defense and a beautiful new turf field at Tigers Stadium.
Parking was difficult, but Dawsonville came to see their beloved Tigers face off against their Class-AAAAA neighbors on Friday night.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched inside the 5-yard line with a serious of quick passes and a strong running game.
On a second-down play Dawson County fumbled the ball and Central recovered.
The turnover seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game.
"That's football," said Maxwell. "The offense did a great job on our first drive, moving the football down the field. I really enjoy our style of offense and we are working to develop the attitude in the players that the only thing that's important is the next play. Play fast, fundamental football and have fun."
Central marched down the field and featured a strong running game that has several good running backs.
With 3:34 left in the first quarter, Bulldog quarterback Jagger Hartshorn found the end zone on a 12-yard ramble.
The snap on the extra point was bobbled and Central held a 6-0 lead.
Dawson County turned the ball over again on its next possession.
Tigers sophomore quarterback Coey Watson threw an interception to Central linebacker Sebastian Legarra who returned the pick for a 26-yard score.
The two-point conversion was good by Forsyth Central and with 3:13 left in the first quarter Central was ahead 14-0.
Despite the interception Watson had a good night throwing the football.
Watson completed 14 of 22 passes for 167 yards.
He also connected with eight different receivers.
Tucker Maxwell, 56 yards, and Logan Hurst, 25 yards, led the receivers with four catches each.
Also catching passes from Watson were Austin Young, for four yards, Trey Dixon, for six yards, Hunter Mitchell, for 11 yards, Barry Thurmond, for seven yards, Dillon Tierany, for 40 yards, and Tristan Cook, for 18 yards.
Even though the Dawson County offense ended up with more than 324 yards total offense, the team struggled, at times, to move the football against a very stubborn Bulldog defense.
"When you get behind, early momentum is big in high school athletics. We had over 300 yards of offense and we are headed in the right direction offensively," Maxwell said.
Coach Shane Williamson's Bulldog offense took the opening kickoff to begin the second half and drove the length of the field for a touchdown at the 8:54 mark of the third quarter.
The score was on a run by Hartshorn from 20-yards out.
The PAT from placekicker Michael Corona was good and made the score 21-0.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 28-0 in the fourth quarter.
With 10:37 remaining, Central scored on a 14-yard run by talented running back Sabrian Howard.
Corona added the extra point.
Nick Murphy finally got Dawson County on the scoreboard with a 94-yard touchdown gallop with only 2:18 left in the contest.
The two-point conversion was good by Logan Hurst and made the final score 28-8 in favor of Forsyth Central.
"We need to win the third downs on defense and get off the field. We did a good job early, but they (Central) wore us down some as the game continued," Maxwell said. "I really enjoy this group of young men. We are learning how to compete each play and the advantage of playing a bigger school is that you have the opportunity to observe your players in a very competitive environment."
Maxwell said that his team must improve its fundamental game in order to be more competitive.
"We must master our fundamentals at each position and focus on the next play. Every football play is a one-rep max," he said.
The Tigers will travel to Ellijay Friday night for a non-region showdown against Gilmer County.
The Bobcats came from behind last week to defeat Fannin County, 29-26.
Gilmer will be under new head coach Zach Grage, who implemented a spread offensive scheme for the Bobcats.
Grage replaces former Gilmer head coach Wesley Tankersley who is now at the helm of Ridgeland High School.
Grage came to Gilmer after serving as offensive coordinator at Class-AAAAAA state champion Colquitt County in Moultrie.
Last season Gilmer was 8-3 and lost in the first round of the state playoffs 49-6 against North Oconee.
The Bobcats defeated Dawson County 23-0 last year.
"I thought the crowd was fantastic in Tigers Stadium on Friday night," Maxwell said. "Hopefully our fans will travel to Gilmer and support us this week as we take on a very good Bobcat football team."
Friday night's game will kick-off at 7:30 p.m.