It was a cold night at Titan Stadium in Bogart for a match-up between North Oconee and the Dawson County Tigers. The winner would advance to the state playoffs as the #3-seed from Region 8-AA.
North Oconee came into the contest with an 8-1 record, while the Tigers were 3-6 overall.
For the Tigers to have a chance every thing would have to go nearly perfect.
Defensively, Dawson needed to contain the Titan running backs. Offensively, the game plan was to sustain long drives that ate up the clock.
The Tigers started out slow and allowed North Oconee to jump out to a 35-0 halftime lead.
Despite scoring two touchdowns in the second half, the Tigers fell to the Titans 42-12. With the loss, Dawson ended its season with a 3-7 record. North Oconee advanced to the state playoffs where they will play Westminster.
North Oconee didn’t waste time getting on the scoreboard. The team marched 56 yards in seven plays for a touchdown on the opening possession.
Titan running back Lane Thompson carried the final 6 yards around the right end to give North Oconee a 7-0 lead with 9:16 left in the first quarter.
Thompson ran seven times for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns.
On North Oconee ‘s second possession, Thompson caught a 20-yard pass over the middle from Blake Gaubert, he broke through several Tiger defensive players on the way to a 60-yard touchdown.
With 6:04 remaining in the first quarter, the Titans held a 14-0 lead.
“We knew we had to control Thompson, but we didn’t do a good job of slowing him down. We just didn’t have a good night,” said Head Coach Jeff Lee.
Dawson County threatened in the first half on an 18-play drive that took the ball down to the Titan 3-yard line. On fourth and goal, Tiger quarterback Tyler
Dominy tried a fade pass to receiver Bruce Clark, but it was incomplete and gave the ball back to North Oconee.
Three plays later, North Oconee found the end zone again on a 70-yard run by its quarterback. With 6:30 left the Titans held a commanding 21-0 lead.
“It killed us not being able to score when we were down 14-0. It was an 18-play drive and we got no points from it. That really hurt,” Lee said.
North Oconee added two more touchdowns before half on runs of 16-yards and 22-yards that made the score 35-0 at the break.
“We didn’t play like we had the last four or five games. We knew going in [they] would be tough. They are like fourth in the state defensively. We were able to put up two touchdowns on them passing. The positive side of all this is that we were 3-3 in our last six games. You just can’t make mistakes against teams that have 20 something seniors. I felt in order for us to have a chance we couldn’t get behind, which we did,” Lee said.
“Coming out for the second half we told our players what was going to happen. We told them we are going to throw the ball and score and we did. Our kids kept fighting despite the score. That’s been true all year. It’s unfortunate that we ran into a real good football team,” Lee said.
The Tigers scored two touchdowns in the second half, both on passes from Dominy.
With 8:30 remaining in the third quarter, Dominy found receiver Ethan Brown for a 12-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good and Dawson trailed 35-6.
Dominy then connected with Bruce Clark for a 33-yard strike for his second touchdown pass with only 1:01 left in the game.
Lee and his staff said goodbye to 11 Tiger seniors: Ethan Brown, Zach Johnson, Cody McGinnis, Bruce Rayner, Levi Wilson, Eian Perry, Preston Lewis, Mason Cox, Andy Crawford, Matthew Jerezewski and Matt Satterfield.
“It was a tough night and I hate for them to go out like that. A lot of those seniors have been with us for [a long time]. We are losing a great group of kids. It was a good group for our underclassmen to look up to. We all want to win, but I hope this group of seniors will take something from their experience and use it in everyday situations. They will be missed,” Lee said.