After what seemed like a slow start, the Dawson County Tigers dominated on both sides of the football—getting a region win on the road over Union County last week.
“It started off slow,” said Head Coach Sid Maxwell. “The kids are getting better. The offensive line I thought blocked better.
“Coey, just, is Coey.”
With the exception of an early interception from quarterback Coey Watson that gave the Panthers a short field, eventually a touchdown and some false hope—the Tigers’ offense was on target and virtually unstoppable on the way to the 52-21 road win.
“We give him [Watson] a choice. He has got in his package a run pass option. He decides which one he wants to do. Two things, nobody is sure if they are getting the ball so they are all trying to get it—or preparing to get it. He may hand it off or he may sling it out to the side…we’ve been able to move the football the last few weeks once we have opened up. I think that has helped us,” Maxwell said.
Watson went 16-for-24 for 195 yards.
The offensive line for Dawson kept control on the next Tiger drive and Vaughn Clark carried nine times on the way to a 23-yard Peyton Allen field goal.
“Our offensive success has always been and will always be as good as our offensive line,” said Offensive Coordinator Andy LeBlanc. “They work incredibly hard and Coach Kenny has them playing fast and confident.”
On the next Union possession, Logan Barnes, Nate Umberger and Logan Brumbelow caused problems for the Panther offense and forced a 56-yard Panther field goal attempt that was no good.
“The play of Umberger and Brumbelow gets better every week.
“Our defense continues to improve at an important time—as the meat of our region schedule is at hand,” said Defensive Coordinator Brent Cox.
The Dawson offense went to work again behind Clark’s running. Robbie Rarick carried in the first touchdown of the night for the Tigers from about 18 yards out.
With 6:07 in the second, Dawson led 10-7.
“I think this team has gotten better. We are hard to defend,” Maxwell said.
The Tiger D picked up a three and out after a Zac Baloga tackle for loss. It would be one of six tackles and one of two tackles for loss for the junior linebacker.
On the next Dawson drive, Clark carried five times for 43 yards. Watson also found Ethan Cameron, Shawn Thomas and Hunter Barron through the air. Clark would run it in from about 14 yards out to add to the lead making it 17-7 with 3:14 until the half.
Another solid stand by the Tiger defensive front forced a punt to the 49.
“Defensively we were solid,” Maxwell said. “Really solid."
The Dawson offense did not let up with completions to Cameron and Ryan Glass and carries again from Clark before Watson hit Cameron over the middle to add 6 more points before the Allen extra point.
Dawson took a 24-7 lead to the half.
In the second half, the Panthers first possession was short-circuited by two sacks on quarter back Cole Wright by T. J. Wilson and Baloga.
Starting from their own 38, Dawson County would again drive the field and a Watson pass to Thomas would add another touchdown. The lead was 31-7 with 7:14 in the third.
The Panthers again went three and out and Dawson’s next drive was brief—Clark scored on a 53-yard run to make it 38-7.
Clark had 30 carries on the night for 202 yards.
Union started their next drive from their own 4 after mishandling Allen’s kick. Three incompletions gave the Panthers no breathing room and Wilson blocked the ensuing punt.
Noah Brock picked up the ball and ran it in. With 5:12 still in the quarter, the Tigers were up 44-7.
Yet another three and out forced by the Dawson D gave the ball right back to the offense.
Rarick got his turn behind the offensive line and another Tiger touchdown made it 52-7 just before the end of the third.
The Panthers would finally add to their score in the fourth on a Wright to Hemphill throw and again with 1:52 to play with the backup quarterback Pierson Allison in the game.
The final from Blairsville at 52-21 gives Dawson County their second region win and moves them to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in Region 7-AAA.
“I think as our offense gets experience, their knowledge and confidence increases,” LeBlanc said. “We can still be a lot better and need to work hard and have a sharper focus in practice if we want to reach our potential.”
Next up for the Tigers is Fannin County. Dawson will host the Rebels at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 for their homecoming game.
“Fannin is going to be a lot like us, throw it around— a spread team,” Maxwell said.
Ninth and JV football
The ninth grade and tenth grade teams have been combined for the last couple of weeks of play, according to Coach Bradley Fowler.
On Sept. 28 the group picked up a win over Union County and another over Lumpkin County on Oct. 5 by a score of 24-10.
“We were able to play a lot of kids in both games and they took advantage of the opportunities they were given,” Fowler said. “The future is bright for their football careers and we are very proud of their effort and team first attitudes.”
The freshman schedule is officially complete and the team ended 5-0 on the season.
The junior varsity will have their final game at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow at home against Flowery Branch. The team is currently 4-1.