“We’re just trying to win a game,” Head Coach Sid Maxwell
said when asked about the game plan going into the Aug. 24 tilt against the
visiting Chestatee High School War Eagles.
And win the game they did, as the first home game of the 2018 season unfolded into a 59–0 victory by the Dawson County High School Tigers.
The War Eagles came into Tiger Stadium featuring their own dual-threat quarterback in sophomore Christian Charles looking to bounce back from a season opening loss at North Hall. Charles’ efforts in that loss had not gone unnoticed by the Tigers coaching staff.
“Their quarterback? He’s good,” Defensive Backs Coach Bradley Fowler said. “Definitely someone we need to look out for.”
The Tigers started the game by kicking off to the War Eagles and the defense got its first crack of the night at stopping Charles.
The first play, a quick wide receiver screen gained 10 yards, and then the Tigers defense laid the foundation for the stone wall they were to become as the game progressed. Three successive negative yardage plays by the Tigers defense, led by seniors Logan Barnes and Zac Baloga, forced a punt by the War Eagles and brought the defense onto the field.
Taking possession for the first time in the game with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Tigers picked up right where they had left off in their win over Habersham by handing the ball to senior running back Ahmad Kamara. Showing power up the middle and speed in the open field, Kamara quickly broke loose for a 63-yard score. On a drive that took less than 20 seconds off the clock, the Tigers took the lead at 7–0.
The speed of the Dawson County defense allowed the team to quickly adapt to the quick screen and outside pass style of play that Chestatee brought to its second possession and the War Eagles were once again forced to punt.
Changing pace on their second possession, the Tigers relied on the arm of senior quarterback Savaughn Clark who completed passes to three different receivers on the drive including a 16-yard touchdown grab by fellow senior Ethan Cameron. After converting on the two-point option the Tigers extended the lead to 15–0 with just over half of the first quarter remaining to be played.
Attempting their own set of adjustments, the War Eagles switched to a running game but, once again, hit the brick wall of the Tigers defense. Another three and out gave the Tigers’ their third shot on offense in the first quarter, but they would have to cover a long field after a great punt by the War Eagles put the ball on the Tigers’ 28.
Reverting to the running game, the Tigers quickly chewed up yardage with Kamara powering up the middle and Clark flashing around the outside. Using just over two minutes of the clock (the longest drive of the quarter by either team) the Tigers put an additional six on the board with another long run up the middle from Kamara, this one of 23 yards. Two more points on the PAT and the Tigers were out to a comfortable 23-point lead as the first quarter was ending.
On the ensuing kick-off, disaster struck for the Chestatee War Eagles in the form of a fumble on the return. The Tigers offense returned to the field taking possession deep inside Chestatee territory. Making quick work of the short field the Tigers drove the ball into the end zone with senior running back Evan Abernathy pushing in from the 11-yard line.
Settling for the kick the Tigers, with 2 minutes and 16 seconds left in the first quarter, built their lead to 30.
Lightning struck for a second time as the Tigers recovered another fumble by the War Eagles on the following kick-off and amid sideline shouts of “Quick change! Quick change!” the offense once again took the field in the first quarter.
A quick option right and Clark broke through the secondary, taking the ball 32 yards down the sideline for the fifth Tiger touchdown of the quarter, and the score moved to an incredible 37–0 with time remaining in the game’s first quarter.
Taking possession of the football on the third kick-off in less than two minutes, the War Eagles put together a two-minute drill that finally managed to put the Tigers defense on their heels and as the first quarter finally drew to a close the Chestatee team was in a great position to put some points on the board.
For fans on the visiting side of the field, the opening play of the second quarter was heartbreaking as the Tigers defense muscled down once more, forcing and recovering their third fumble of the game and ending the War Eagles drive 4 yards from the end zone.
On the ensuing drive’s second play Cameron got a chance to display his speed as he took the ball on the jet sweep around the left side for 70 yards and put a lid on the game with his second touchdown of the night. Another 2-point conversion and the score moved into blowout territory at an insurmountable 45–0.
Both teams, tired from the exertions of the first quarter, settled into a steady, time-chewing pace and the remainder of the half settled into an exchange of punts as the teams stayed between the twenties to head to the locker rooms.
“There is no such thing as a 45-point play,” Chestatee Head Coach Shaun Conley said, assessing his team’s position at half time. “You’ve got to show up and go back to work.”
The second half of the game opened with the Tigers returning the opening kick to the 40-yard line and Dawson County fans were excited to get a glimpse of the team’s future as several members of the second team took the field.
Making the most of his opportunity on the field, junior running back Shawn Thomas turned two carries into 62 yards and another quick touchdown for the Dawson County Tigers, bringing the score to 52-0.
The remainder of the quarter turned into a defensive struggle as the Tigers continued to dominate the front line of the War Eagles and a resurgent Chestatee defense buckled down and stopped the Tigers on multiple possessions as well.
Taking over the running back duties at the beginning of the fourth quarter, sophomore running back Isaiah Grindle appeared determined to make his mark as he took the ball 49 yards to the house on his first carry of the quarter, further extending the Tigers lead to 59 over the War Eagles zero.
From the opening play the fourth quarter settled into much the same pattern as the third, and the game wound to a close with both defenses preventing any more scoring in the contest to finalize the night’s score at 59 for the Dawson County Tigers and zero for the Chestatee War Eagles.
The Tigers will not play this Friday but will return next week to play West Hall at home on Sept. 7, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m.