Defense has been an underlying issue for Dawson County all season. Things are looking brighter for the undersized squad as the Tigers forced East Hall into six turnovers in a 49-7 shellacking of the visiting Vikings.
The six turnovers led to 35 first half points as Dawson strolled to an easy Region 8-AA victory.
The Vikings threw three interceptions and along with three fumbles just couldn't get anything going offensively.
"I thought our defense played great," said Head Coach Jeff Lee. "They were physical like we wanted and it eventually led to six turnovers. Our defense also did a good job of containing the run. East Hall has a very fast quarterback and their running back is also very good."
Dawson's pass defense was great. Interceptions by Jackson Putnam, Bruce Clark and Brandon Seay all led to points for the Tigers.
The Tigers defense was physical with East Hall, which led to a passive approach on offense for the Vikings.
More importantly the Tigers have qualified for a state playoff spot.
Lee's squad moved to 4-4 overall and 3-1 in Region 8A-AA play. This week Dawson will make the long journey to Tiger for a match-up with Rabun County.
The Wildcats are coming off a 10-7 loss to Union County on Friday.
"At the beginning of the season this was our goal," said Dawson County quarterback Tyler Dominy. "All we wanted was a chance to make the state playoffs."
Zack Martin had a huge night rushing for the Tigers.
The junior scored four touchdowns on 16 carries for 106 yards. Martin also caught a pass for 22 yards.
"Six turnovers will get you every time," said East Hall coach Bryan Gray. "They were, by far, the better team."
"Zack Martin had a big game. He is just so punishing when he runs. It allowed us to take control of the clock and turn all East Hall's mistakes into points. I also thought that Cody Smith had a good game, running the ball and also on defense," Lee said.
Senior Viking running back Jamond Witt still had a good night rushing. Witt finished the contest with 190 yards on 16 carries.
Dawson scored on all but one of its possessions in the first half to take the 35-0 lead at halftime.
The Tigers used a little trickery, which is highly unusual for a Lee coached team, when Dominy pitched the ball to Keaton Toal who threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Putnam with just 3:15 remaining in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.
Mitchell Putnam had two receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown. Putnam also rushed the ball three times for 24 yards.
Dawson finished the night with 363 total yards on offense.
Dominy completed 7-of-9 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. The junior quarterback didn't need to throw many times because the Tigers' ground game was dominating.
Seven different running backs provided yards. Cody Smith had 48 yards on nine rushes and a touchdown. Will Anglin ran the ball three times for 23 yards. Justin Sams, Cody Lamar and Zach Guy all had carries for the Tigers.
Dawson totaled 41 rushes for a total of 227 yards.
Place kicker Max Muldoon was perfect. He connected on all of his extra point attempts, going 7-for-7.
Lee was able to play a lot of younger players as the score swelled to 42-7 in the fourth quarter.
"Being so far ahead it gave us a chance to get some repetitions for our younger players. It was really nice to get them into the game," Lee said.
East Hall fell to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in region play.
The Vikings are holding onto third place in the region with a huge game against first place Banks County coming up on Friday.
The game was also homecoming for the Tigers. During halftime festivities, Sarah Anglin was crowned queen and James Carr king for 2011.