Fans of the Dawson County High School varsity football team left the stadium shaking their heads Friday night.
Was this the same Dawson offensive team that fans were used to seeing? Did the renovations to the stadium rejuvenate the Tigers team?
Head Coach Jeff Lee's offense put 56 points, yes eight touchdowns, on the board Friday night against AAA neighbor Pickens County in an opening 56-35 victory at Tigers Stadium.
The Tigers set a new school record with 42 first-half points to open the season 1-0.
There were four touchdowns scored in the first four minutes, by both teams, of the first quarter.
"Yeah it was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, point productions we have ever had in school history in one half," Lee said.
Dawson rode the play of offensive stars Tyler Dominy, fullback Zack Martin, and wide receiver Bruce Clark. All three posted huge numbers in the win.
Dominy finished the game completing 14-of-20 passes for 238 yards and four touchdowns.
Martin dominated on the ground with tough, physical running. He scored three rushing touchdowns on 26 carries for 159 yards.
Tiger wide receiver Clark used a variety of nifty moves to catch nine passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Most of his total yards were after the catch.
On a negative note, the Tiger defense struggled.
Dawson missed lots of tackles, which led to several long gains for the Dragons. Pickens managed only one long drive during the entire game. Most of their points came on busted special teams assignments and long plays from the line of scrimmage.
The opening kickoff set the tone for Dawson County. Pickens fumbled the kick and Dawson recovered at the 27-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage, Dominy found Clark down the left sideline for a quick touchdown. Max Muldoon added the extra point and the Tigers held a quick 7-0 led.
Muldoon was 8-for-8 on extra points for the contest.
The Tigers kicked off to Pickens County. Pickens fumbled the kick again but recovered this time. The play seemed to mess up the Tigers coverage. The Dragons returned the kick 79-yards for a touchdown.
Two touchdowns in 24 seconds.
Dawson struck quickly after the ensuing kickoff.
After a personal foul for roughing the punter, Dominy found Clark once again for a 17-yard touchdown with 8:38 remaining in the first quarter. After the extra point Dawson led 14-7.
Pickens would not give up. On the second play from scrimmage the running back broke loose for a 75-yard touchdown that tied the score at 14-14.
Lee's offense answered with a 9-play drive capped off by a Dominy to Chris Sayler touchdown pass from 32-yards out to give Dawson a 21-14 lead.
The Tigers score again on a Zack Martin touchdown run from 2-yards out with 7:44 gone in the second quarter to give the Tigers a 28-14 lead.
Dawson added another touchdown in the second quarter with 3:21 left on a 36-yard scamper by Martin to stretch out their lead to 35-14.
The Dragons answered with a TD of their own to cut the lead to 35-21 with 1:53 remaining before half.
Lee's offense would not run out the clock. Dominy found Clark again for a 27-yard touchdown with only 29 seconds remaining in the quarter. Clark made a great move on his defender to get into the end zone.
Score at half time was Dawson leading 42-21.
Both teams added two touchdowns apiece in the second half.
Scoring for Dawson County in the final two quarters were Martin on a 2-yard run and Austin Pisseri on a 15-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers finished the night with more than 500 yards of total offense.
"We came in wanting to do what we did. Finally it worked. We wanted to establish the running game and we did that with Martin. We wanted to let folks know that they have got to stop the fullback. We wanted to establish the inside running game. We wanted to throw only when we had to throw. Tyler (Dominy) makes things happen. Our offensive line did a heck of a job. They did a good job of protecting Tyler. Bruce Clark did a great job running routes. After he caught the ball he picked up lots of yards. He got most of his yards after the catch," Lee said.
"I thought Zack Martin did such a good job at fullback. We didn't have to play Cody Smith that much on offense. Cody did a good job when he had to come in and rest Martin. We feel like we have a good tandem with those two. They are both big and strong and they run straight ahead and will hit you," he added.
Lee said his team must improve on defense.
"We missed tackles all night. Pickens only had one long drive. The rest of their points were because of special teams breakdowns or missed tackles. We gave up a lot of yards on defense and we have to fix that," he said.
Next week the Tigers will face a very tough Gilmer County team. The Bobcats defeated Fannin County 29-21 on Friday.
"It will be another tough AAA opponent. They, Gilmer, are a tough and physical football team. It should be a real good football game," Lee said.
Friday's win over Pickens avenged last year's 27-14 defeat in Jasper.
The point total was much more than the 35 points scored last season against Rabun County, which was the highest offensive output of the year for the Tigers.
The game was the highest number of points scored in a game for Dawson County since the 2004 season. That year the Tigers were 8-3 overall with big wins over East Hall, 50-28, and Banks County, 54-6.
On defense, the game matched a high total of points scored from last season.
During the 2010 campaign the Tigers gave up 35 points plus to Gilmer County, 35-0, Jefferson, 35-14, Chestatee, 35-7, and North Oconee, 42-12.
The Tigers game against Gilmer County Friday night in Ellijay will kickoff at 7:30 p.m.