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Tigers’ defense plays big in close loss to Cherokee Bluff
AJ Moore
Senior AJ Moore blocks the Cherokee Bluff punt on Friday, Oct. 22. - photo by Bill Murphy

The Dawson County Tigers defense recorded three sacks, seven tackles for a loss, one interception, and a blocked punt in a 21-14 loss to Cherokee Bluff on Friday, Oct. 22 for the team’s first region loss of the year.

The Tigers defense came out of the gates hard on the opening drive of the game, recording three consecutive tackles for losses, one each from senior Christian Webb, junior Kade Moledor, and senior AJ Moore. Moore finished the game with three tackles for losses, two sacks and blocked the punt.

The biggest sack of the game for the Tigers came down by seven. With 1:53 left in the ball game, the Bears were facing a 4th&17. Hoping to force a turnover on downs, the Tigers had tight coverage downfield, forcing the Bear’s quarterback to step up in the pocket. Waiting for him was junior Cade Adams, who gave the Tigers a fighting chance with under two minutes to go.

On the following drive, senior Zach Holtzclaw would throw his third interception of the game, helping seal the win for the Bears. Holtzclaw threw all three of his interceptions in the second half while also throwing for a touchdown to open the game’s scoring.

In the first quarter, Holtzclaw found senior Braedon Hubbard on a fade route to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. Hubbard had two catches for thirteen yards in addition to his one score. The Tigers were led by senior Bailey Dameron with four catches for 60 yards.

The turning point in the game was the last play of the first half. The Bears got the ball with 16 seconds left and in 12 seconds were able to run one last play from the 35 yard line. The Bears went for it all and hit their receiver in the end zone as time expired. Bear’s wide receiver Marilon Jackson caught the ball and juggled it, but the lights at Cherokee Bluff flicker on and off after a touchdown. 

With the lights flickering, the referees couldn’t fully see what was happening and ruled the play a touchdown. Tigers head coach Sid Maxwell disagreed with the call, 

“Obviously, it was an incomplete pass,” Maxwell said. “[Jackson] juggled it the whole time and never had possession and that was the turning point. It was too big of a football game for that to happen.”

Maxwell was right on both ends. The Bears would use the momentum gained from that touchdown to shut down the Tigers until senior Jackson Grindle’s 13 yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

This game also determined who would be in first place in Region 7-3A. Coming into play North Hall, Cherokee Bluff, and Dawson County were all undefeated in region. After tonight, Dawson County sits in third at 3-1 behind Cherokee Bluff (4-0) and North Hall (4-0).

There are two remaining games for the Dawson County Tigers, one game against Lumpkin County (2-6 overall, 1-3 Region 7-3A) and North Hall (6-2 overall, 4-0 Region 7-3A). Wins against Lumpkin County next week and North Hall are pivotal if the Tigers want a shot at either hosting a playoff game or winning the region championship.

The game against Lumpkin County will be at Dawson County High School on Friday, Oct. 29, starting at 7:30 p.m.