The coach's adage: “Play through the buzzer until you hear a referees whistle” was never more evident than on Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
With the Tigers down just 6-0, against Banks County, the Leopards threw a desperation pass down the middle of the field just before halftime.
Tight end Eli Autry hauled in the pass from Banks quarterback Harrison Dale.
Three Tiger defenders converged on the big tight end as the buzzer sounded ending the second quarter. However, right before Dawson County High School Head Coach Jeff Lee’s eyes all three defenders bounced off Leopard tight end Autry as he rambled into the end zone from 58-yards out.
Banks took a 12-0 lead into the locker room.
The one play seemed to deflate the Dawson players as they walked up the hill toward the field house at halftime.
“That play really killed us,” Lee said. “We had a chance to control our destiny in the sub-region. This loss hurt us really bad.”
Banks went on to a 25-11 victory. The Leopards are 5-1 overall, but more importantly they are 2-0 in sub-region play. Banks is tied with East Hall High School, who is also 2-0.
Dawson dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-1 in the sub-region.
Things looked promising for Dawson to start the game.
The Tigers marched down the field on a 50-yard drive to the Banks County 15-yard line. The Banks County defense stiffened and forced a 22-yard field goal from Tiger place kicker Ethan Brown.
Brown missed the field goal attempt wide right.
The Banks County offense went on its own drive. The Leopards used 12 plays to go 85 yards before finding pay dirt.
Running back Dylan Lackey scored from 1-yard out to give Banks a 6-0 lead with 2:05 left in the first quarter.
The extra point by Leopard Dean Ewing was no good.
Both defenses controlled the rest of the half, as neither team threatened until the “Hail Mary” pass just before half.
The Leopards opened the scoring in the second half on a Dale to Lackey touchdown run on an option play that covered 38-yards.
The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful and Banks held an 18-0 lead with 9:51 left in the third quarter.
Dawson answered when Tyler Dominy found receiver Jacob Picklesimer on a fourth and 16 pass down to the Banks 1-yard line.
After a run and two quarterback sneaks, the Tigers lined up for a field goal.
This time Brown split the uprights and cut the Banks County lead to 18-3 with 11:56 to play in the game.
The Leopards put up another touchdown with 4:50 remaining in the game on a Lackey 4-yard run. The extra point by Ewing was good and made the score 25-3.
Dominy and his Tiger offensive teammates didn’t quit. Dominy hit receiver Bruce Clark in the corner of the end zone with an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Lee decided to go for a 2-point conversion. Dominy found Levi Wilson for a successful 2-points. With 1:41 to play Dawson trimmed the lead to 25-11.
The Tiger defense made a stand on the ensuing offensive series by Banks County.
Dawson linebacker Lee Smith recovered a fumble at the Banks County 45-yard line, but the Tiger offense couldn’t take advantage of the turnover as time expired.
This week Dawson will travel to Blairsville to face a 1-5 Union County Panther team.
The Panthers only win came over Towns County, 40-7, the first week of the season. Union has dropped five straight to Lumpkin, 37-14, Hart County, 33-6, Robbinsville (N.C.), 34-0, Banks County, 27-0, and last week to East Hall, 35-28.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.