The season is over for Head Coach Jeff Lee and his Dawson County varsity football team.
On a chilly night in Gainesville, the Tigers dropped their fifth straight contest by a score of 27-0 to playoff-bound Riverside Military Academy.
The Tigers finished the season with an overall record of 1-9 and only 1-8 in Region 8-AA.
Riverside will move on to the state football playoffs.
The Eagles are 5-5 overall for the season and 5-4 in the region. Riverside Military Academy Head Coach Scot Sloan, in his first year as the Eagles coach, will take his team to Callaway High School for the first round.
It will be Riverside’s second consecutive year in the playoffs.
Dawson has not made it to the first round since 2004, when the team concluded the year with an 8-3 record.
The last four years have been a struggle for Dawson County. The Tigers are only 9-31 during that span and have only won one game in the last 12.
It was Senior Night for the Eagles in a must-win game for a playoff-berth.
Dawson County took the opening kickoff and marched down field, getting to the Riverside 2-yard line in just five plays behind freshman quarterback Tyler Dominy. It was Dominy’s first start as a Tiger.
Riverside’s defense rose to the occasion and stopped Dawson on four straight plays.
The Eagles defense stopped Tiger running back Eian Perry on a fourth and two to force a turnover on downs.
This was the only threat Lee and his offense made all evening.
Despite a strong game on the ground by Perry, the Tigers were unable to cross into the end zone. It was the second straight shutout by an opponent of the Dawson offense. This was the fourth shutout all season as the Tigers only managed 10 touchdowns all year.
“We put in a new offense this week,” said Lee. “It gave us a better chance with Tyler at quarterback running this type of offense. At times we moved the ball.”
Riverside got on the scoreboard first on a 38-yard scramble by talented quarterback Lucas Bersin. The extra point was good by kicker Victor Salcido.
The Eagles held a 7-0 lead with 8:26 left in the first quarter.
Dawson County fumbled on its next possession and the ball was recovered by Eagle lineman William Craven on the Tiger 19-yard line.
The Eagles capitalized on the first play from scrimmage. Eagle running back Brian Cox scored on an inside running play. The point after was good by Salcido to give Riverside a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Tiger quarterback Dominy was scrambling for his life all game. Dominy was sacked eight times as protection broke down on several occasions.
Riverside added another touchdown with 9:23 to play in the second quarter. Bersin found wide receiver Richard Tribble from 9-yards out for the score.
The extra point was not good and the Eagles went in to halftime with a comfortable 20-0 advantage.
The Tigers did not go down easily.
In the third quarter, Dominy led Dawson on a drive of its own.
Dominy found freshman Bruce Clark on a 4-yard pass on first down.
Perry then took a handoff from Dominy and weaved 34-yards deep into Riverside territory. But as was the case all night, two sacks forced Dawson to turn the ball over.
Early in the fourth quarter, Bersin finished Riverside’s scoring with an 18-yard pass to Cole Tudor. The extra point was true by Salcido, which made the final score 27-0.
Eagle quarterback Bersin finished the game with nine rushes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Bersin also passed 13 times, completing nine, for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Dawson’s defense, again, had a tough game.
In the last four games, Dawson has given up 153 points for an 38.3 average per game. On the year, Dawson has allowed 299 points for a 29.9 average per game.
“When you play eight freshmen on defense it’s tough,” said Lee. “On both sides of the ball we sometimes play up to 14 freshmen in a game. It’s tough in this league doing that.”
Lee added: “We knew it would be tough against Riverside, especially the way they had been playing lately. We started installing some of the offense we plan on using next year. Even though with only three days of practice in, we did see some bright spots for the future.”
The Tigers will use the off season to improve. With so many underclassman, the team will lose only five seniors to graduation, next year should see an improvement.
Playing in their final game as Tiger football players were: Grant Brown, Chase Williams, Taylor Welling, Nick Marsh and Alan Boeke.