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Tigers fall to North Hall: Trojans strong running game ends regular season for Dawson County
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Isaiah Grindle watching the Tigers battle against North Hall to end the 2020 regular season. - photo by Jacob Smith

The Dawson County Tigers ended their 2020 regular season with a 34-21 loss to North Hall High School in Gainesville. 

The North Hall Trojans played a run heavy offense that the Tigers could not stop all night. The Trojans had over 350 rushing yards during the game. 

“We were sloppy all the way around,” Tigers Head Coach Sid Maxwell said after the game. “We made some adjustments to stop that but we still couldn’t get things going. They played good defense and we came up short.”

The Tigers relied heavily on their passing game during the night, due to starting running back Isaiah Grindle leaving the game at the end of the first quarter with an apparent leg injury. Grindle stayed on the sideline and watched the game on crutches. He collected 33 rushing yards before his injury. 

Quarterback Zach Holtzclaw completed 30 of his 43 passing attempts for 338 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Jaden Gibson, Tyler Lane and Dakohta Sonnichsen combined to catch  29 of Holtzclaw’s 30 completions. 

Gibson led the pack with 14 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. Lane caught 10 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown and Sonnichsen caught the remaining 5 passes for 46 yards. 

Cade Adams and Kade Moledor both sacked the Trojans' quarterback  and Joey Glover intercepted one of the three Trojan pass attempts in the game. 

North Hall scored on the first possession of the game, giving the Trojans a quick 7-0 lead. After exchanging punts, Caleb Bonesteel’s field goal attempt was blocked and the Trojans ran the ball into the end zone once again to take a 14-0 lead into the second quarter. 

After the Tigers turned the ball over on fourth down, the Trojans kept the ball on the ground again for the score but missed the extra point to make the score 20-0. 

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Tigers head coach Sid Maxwell talking about a penalty with a referee from the Nov. 20 game against North Hall. - photo by Jacob Smith

The Tigers drove down the field on their next possession, but Gibson lost a fumble after a catch. Gibson redeemed himself with the Tigers last possession of the first half by hauling in a 22-yard touchdown catch for the Tigers first score of the game. The Trojans led 20-7 at halftime. 

A holding penalty kept the Tigers from being able to effectively move the ball down the field on their first possession of the second half and their next resulted in a Holtzclaw interception. Trojans running back Clark Howell ran the ball in for his third touchdown of the game to give North Hall a 27-7 lead with 6:47 left in the third. 

The Tigers responded with a 10-play touchdown drive punctuated by a 23-yard touchdown catch by Tyler Lane. Joey Glover’s interception came on the Trojans next offensive drive but the Tigers could not convert any points on the scoreboard. Two possessions of 24 plays resulted in a red zone turnover and a punt. 

After the Trojans last touchdown of the game, the Tigers pulled off one of the most exciting and unique plays in football: the hook-and-ladder. Holtzclaw completed a pass to Gibson for about 30 yards, but once Gibson was being tackled, he pitched to the receiver behind him, Lane, who extended the play another 32 yards to the Trojans’ 3-yard line. Holtzclaw ran the ball in for the final score of the game. 

Though they lost on Friday, the Tigers qualified for the #3 seed in the 7-3A region and will compete for the 3-A GHSA state championship starting Friday, Nov. 27. 

“We’re gonna be on the road but that’s part of it,” Maxwell said. “Everybody is starting fresh. I was telling my guys that it don’t matter what you’ve done in the past. It’s what you do next.” 

Dawson County will travel to Adairsville High School in Bartow County for their first round matchup. The game starts at 7:30 p.m.

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Tigers quarterback Zach Holtzclaw fires a chunk of his 338 yards in the 34-21 loss to North Hall. - photo by Jacob Smith