Even with nine penalties that could have been the difference in the game, the Dawson County Tigers won their home opener last Friday over the Chattooga Indians.
“There were several big third down plays—situations where that game, we could have lost that football game with the number of things that went wrong,” said Head Coach Sid Maxwell.
The Tigers won 29-14 over a sizable Indian team that sought to use unusual offensive and defensive plays, forcing Dawson to make adjustments on the fly.
Some worked for Chattooga like a couple of direct snaps and a reverse to Devin Price in the third quarter.
“I think we are pretty good with misdirection inside the box but anything going out wide we got to recognize a little bit faster,” Maxwell said.
Other unconventional plays, however, did not work for the Indians—like the fake punt from inside their own 5 yard line.
“That team was very unconventional on offense and defense which makes it really hard to prepare for because you have to constantly adjust,” Maxwell said. “We weren’t expecting 11 people within five yards of the football.
“Thank goodness for that fake punt.”
Vaughn Clark was able to run the ball in from the 3-yard line following the turn over on downs to capitalize on the failed attempt.
A solid defensive outing and play by special teams may have been the saving grace for the Tigers.“Defensively I have been real pleased with the aggressiveness,” Maxwell said. “It has been surprising to see them progress….They are not hesitating on what they are doing. They are flying to the football and even when they get blocked, they are getting off of it and playing really good team defense. That’s probably sort of setting the tone for us.”
“Punt and kick offs were huge,” said Defensive Coordinator Brent Cox. “They had a great returner, but he didn’t get a chance but once to do it. Peyton kicking the ball in the end zone…that was huge.”
Also big for the Dawson defense was the play of safety Logan Barnes who had 15 tackles on the night, and according to Cox, played with an incredible amount of intensity.
Barnes was called for a personal foul after a massive tackle on third and long in the fourth quarter.
“He made a very big play with a tremendous hit and he just went over top of the kid and because of his angle he was just heading back to defense…He is always a kid that is real quiet, just quiet natured and plays the game with a passion,” Maxwell said.
Senior Nate Umberger had 14 tackles of his own and a sack.
Noah Brock contributed another five tackles and an interception that he returned for 19 yards.
“Up front, Baloga, Swofford, Browning and Wilson controlled the line of scrimmage with multiple tackles for loss,” Cox said. “Overall, defense must continue to play fast and get to the ball.”
The Indians were 5-for-21 with 33 yards passing and the Brock interception. They carried the ball for 88 yards with two touchdowns.
Dawson’s first successful drive started from their own 34 and after a short Coey Watson run, Watson found Ryan Glass through the air for a 60-yard touchdown with 2:55 to play in the first.
Glass had two receptions for 139 yards.
Dawson picked up the 2-point conversion to make it 8-0.
The next Dawson possession ended with a Watson punt to the Chattooga 5 yard line where the Dawson defense held and Chattooga opted for the fake that would lead to a Tiger touchdown.
A Dawson fumble on the next possession gave the Indians the ball at the Tiger 48-yard line.
The drive ended with an almost 50 yard field goal attempt that was blocked by the Tigers and Dawson would go to half up 15-0.
Chattooga scored out of the half on the Price reverse before Dawson went to the ground again with Watson and Clark.
Clark had 95 yards on the night with 21 carries.
Watson then found Glass—this time for a 79 yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers ahead 22-7. Watson was 6-for-10 with 156 yards and carried for 31 before leaving the game in the third quarter.
The next possession by Dawson saw Trey Pruitt enter the game at quarterback and Clark running over Indians, but the Tigers could not get back to the end zone.
Taylor Swofford and TJ Wilson picked up a big stop at the line after an Indian first down and Brock broke up a pass to force a punt just before the fourth quarter.
Another Tiger fumble would give the Indians excellent field position at the 20.
Logan Barnes had his destructive tackle for a loss on third and long, but picked up the controversial personal foul on the play giving the Chattooga drive some life.
The Indians were able to run one in to make it 22-14 with 4:24 to play.
On the next Dawson drive, Clark continued to run successfully up the middle before breaking out for a 40 yard touchdown run with 1:16 to play.
The Brock interception and 19-yard return on the next Indians drive put the game game out of reach.
The Tigers are now 2-0 and have a bye on Sept. 8.
“That’s the fun part about coaching,” Maxwell said. “We are 2-0. It’s much easier to make adjustments and keep the ball moving than if we were 0-2.”
Dawson County will host West Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 15.