The season has abruptly ended for the Dawson County High School varsity Tigers football team. Coach Jeff Lee's team lost 10-7 to visiting West Hall, ending the season. The Tigers finished with a 5-5 overall record, but were 3-4 in Region 7-AAA.
For West Hall, the season will mark the team's first state playoff appearance since 2002.
The Spartans enter the playoffs with a 6-4 record and were 4-3 in Region 7-AAA. Coach Tony Lotti's team will travel to play Cartersville on Friday.
West Hall scored on its opening march downfield on a 16-play, 71-yard score. There were only two passing plays on the drive.
The Spartans capped off the drive with a 4-yard run by quarterback Zach English.
Lee's squad answered on its next possession. Junior quarterback Zack Buchan connected with Jackson Putnam from 20-yards out. Max Muldoon added the extra point and with nine minutes remaining in the half, the score was tied at seven.
Buchan finished the game completing 12-of-18 passes for 130 yards.
Putnam had three catches for 26 yards and the touchdown.
With 3:30 left in the second quarter, the Spartans capitalized on a fumble by Dawson on the 27-yard line. The Tigers defense held and forced the Spartans to attempt a 37-yard field goal by Bradley Hodgson. The kick was good and put West Hall ahead, 10-7.
Despite the hard running by senior fullback Cody Lamar, and the seven-catch performance by receiver Chris Sayler, the Tigers just couldn't get any points in the second half.
Lamar finished the game with 25 carries for 89 yards. The senior completed the season with 901 yards rushing.
Muldoon had a chance at two long field goals, one from 47-yards out with 11:46 to play and another shot from 48-yards away. The first attempt had plenty of distance and just missed to the left. The second try was short.
"I knew he (Muldoon) had the leg to make it from that distance. It just went to the left at the last moment. Another first down would have helped," Lee said.
"I know (Dawson County) has a great kicker; he is all-region, and so I knew he'd be in range," Lotti said. "But I was so proud of how our kids played. We never gave up."
Holding penalties were another issue the Tigers just couldn't overcome. Lee's team was flagged five times.
"Offensively we had two crucial fumbles. One led to the winning field goal. The other was on their 15-yard line. Both were big in the outcome of the game. We had two missed field goals and five holding calls, which negated first downs, and two failed fourth downs. We just couldn't overcome those miscues.
"Defensively, I thought we played very good, minus their first drive of the game. It was another good performance turned in by our defense," Lee said.
On a third and eight with under two minutes to play, West Hall tight end Hunter Atkinson (6'6") lined up at the pistol position and bulled his way 18-yards for a first down, ending Dawson's chances.
Dawson County managed 247 total yards on offense.
"The 2013 season had its share of ups and downs, missed opportunities and surprises. I think we surprised a lot of people in the position that we finished in, with a chance to go to the playoffs in game 10 of the season.
"We will graduate a good bunch of seniors who have won a lot of games over the last three years. They will be missed as we began preparations for next season," Lee said.
DCN regional staff contributed to this story.