Without a single touchdown scored and plenty of penalties on both sides, the Dawson County Tigers opened up regular season play with a shut out win on the road over the Forsyth Central Bulldogs last Friday.
“I am really proud, as young as we are, and the kids we had,” said Head Coach Sid Maxwell about the Tigers first win on the season. “Any time you win that’s great.”
Three field goals from kicker Peyton Allen gave Dawson the 9-0 win.
“We did some good things, but again penalties and a couple of turnovers kept us from getting in the end zone,” Maxwell said.
The Bulldogs opening drive was cut short by a T. J. Wilson interception courtesy of a Zac Baloga tip on Max Karlan’s pass.
Forsyth Central returned the favor with an interception of its own two plays later.
The teams exchanged drives with Dawson keeping the ball on the ground behind the running of junior Vaughn Clark and senior quarterback Coey Watson.
“Our plan will always be to take what the defense gives us,” said Offensive Coordinator Andy LeBlanc. “It was clear to me early on that they were not going to let us get behind them. I thought we matched up well with them up front and wanted to establish our run game.”
Clark had 109 yards rushing on the night and Watson scrambled for 156 of his own.
“Coach Kenny and the offensive line did a great job up front, which allowed us to attack them on the ground,” LeBlanc said. “We wanted to keep the tempo up and wear them out.
The game was scoreless at the end of the first period.
Dawson’s fourth drive of the night began at the 48 and almost stalled after a late hit by the Bulldogs culminated with multiple personal fouls.
A Watson keeper got the ball as far as the Bulldog 13-yard-line and Allen put it through the uprights to get the Tigers on the board.
A three-and-out for the Bulldogs gave it back to the Tigers who again kept it on the ground.
Maxwell praised the solid defensive efforts of Baloga, Velasquez, Noah Brock and Nate Umberger.
“Nate did a lot of things, got a lot of tackles,” Maxwell said. “Noah Brock made some big plays. He was against some veteran receivers.”
“Great effort by many new faces against 7A team,” said Defensive Coordinator Brent Cox. “We must continue to improve on our reads so we can play faster.”
Allen made a second field goal from 33 yards out with 3:24 until the half.
Dawson would go to the break with the 6-0 lead.
“We were able to pound them a little bit and wear them down,” Maxwell said. “Anytime you can play a 7A opponent and come out ahead.”
A handoff to sophomore running back Shawn Thomas jump started the first drive of the second half taking the Tigers out to their own 40.
“Our kids played with great effort and saw a difference in their performance from the first half to the second half,” LeBlanc said.
A Clark run took the ball inside the Bulldogs’ 20 and a Watson keeper got the Tigers as far as the 5 yard line.
Allen came on for his third field goal of the night with 9:16 in the third.
“We wouldn’t have won without him,” Maxwell said.
The next Dawson drive started from inside their own 5-yard-line after a Karlan punt. Clark and Watson picked up first downs and on a third and one Watson took the ball to the Bulldog 27.
On the next play, a Thomas carry ended when the ball came out after he hit the ground. It was ruled a fumble on the field and the Bulldogs went back to work.
Baloga was able to pressure Karlan in the back field and Taylor Swofford picked up the sack on the ensuing play. Baloga again added pressure forcing the Bulldogs to punt it away.
The next Bulldog drive saw another sack, this one from Baloga for a loss before Jason Velasquez came up with an interception at the 7-yard line. He returned it to the 32, ending Forsyth Central’s chances with two minutes to play.
Next up for the Tigers is the home opener against Chattooga.
“Chattooga is very athletic,” said LeBlanc. “They have some really good looking kids that play fast. We will have to play disciplined and execute up front. I think this is going to be a great challenge for our kids.
“I am excited to get out there and see how we have grown over the course of the week. It’s gonna be a lot of fun and I am looking forward to our first home game of the season. It should be a great game.”
The Tigers are now 1-0 and will play at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 1 at home.
Junior Varsity Football
The JV program faced White County on Aug. 24 and won 31-0.
“We played great in all three phases of the game,” said Coach Bradley Fowler. “Trey Pruitt, Robbie Rarick, Raymond Vassak, Eli Bearden and Brody Howell all had great games on offense.”
D.J. Mitchell returned an interception for a touchdown and Hunter Loggins made plays on special teams.
“Effort was great and we are very proud of this group,” he said.
The team is 1-0 and will host Pickens County at 5 p.m. tomorrow.
Ninth Grade Football
The ninth grade football team picked up a win at Fannin on Aug. 23 by a final of 25-7.
“They are flying around and playing fast and physical and with this win, I believe it will help their confidence going forward,” said Coach Kevin Grigsby.
Max Moon threw for two touchdowns and Kinkade Weaver had two touchdown receptions.
Dakota Sonnichsen ran for a touchdown and picked up a defensive touchdown to seal the game, according to Grigsby.
Caleb Bonesteel added the point after on the final touchdown.
The team is now 1-0.
Eighth Grade Football
The eighth grade team took on Gainesville at home on Aug. 24 and lost 42-24.
“Obviously not the result that we wanted on the scoreboard, but I feel the boys competed and improved throughout the game,” said Coach Chess Hamby.
Andrew Burt, Zach Holtzclaw and Conley Dyer all had rushing touchdowns for the Tigers.
“We fell behind early, but when we adjusted to their speed, we hung with them pretty well,” Hamby said.
The team is now 1-1 and will travel for a 5 p.m. game on Aug. 31 against Habersham Central Middle School.