The Tigers have a chance to make the state playoffs.
Yes that’s right, with a win this week at North Oconee the Tigers will be in the playoffs.
Dawson defeated the Rabun County Wildcats during Senior Night Friday, 35-24, to clinch a third place finish in the sub-region and a shot at state. During half-time, the Tigers’ recognized 11 seniors who will finish their high school football careers this season. The seniors will get a chance this year to play in a meaningful game 10.
“It will be a great opportunity for our players,” said Head Coach Jeff Lee. “It will be a tough environment for our kids to play, but our players know that game number 10 means something.”
That hasn’t been the case over the last four years for the Tigers.
Game 10, the last game of the season, is usually the time when players are thinking about a winter sport, graduation, no practice, etc., but not this year. It will be a formidable task, but it can happen.
Every week an underdog team upsets someone and why can’t it be this week. Only time will tell.
“We have to put one game together and execute precisely to give ourselves a chance. I believe our guys can do that,” Lee said.
North Oconee will come into the game with an 8-1 record. The Titans lost last week to sub-region champions Elbert County, 6-0, in Bogart.
Last season the two teams hooked up and North Oconee came away with a decisive 41-9 win.
Friday night’s game with Rabun County was dominated by the Tigers. Except for a couple of mental lapses, the Tigers pushed Rabun around in almost every phase of the game.
Dawson got on the boards first on a Tyler Dominy to Eian Perry 4-yard touchdown pass. It was the end result of a 69-yard drive that took almost seven minutes off the clock.
Ethan Brown nailed the extra point and with 5:33 remaining in the first quarter Dawson held a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers added another touchdown late in the first quarter. This time Dominy found Brown on a 15-yard touchdown pass to finish another long drive of 67-yards.
Dominy threw four touchdowns in the contest with only one interception.
Once again, Brown added the extra point and Dawson was now in front with only 43 seconds remaining, 14-0.
Rabun didn’t quit. The Wildcats fielded the ensuing kick off and returned the football down to the Tiger 12-yard line. Senior Levi Wilson saved a touchdown with a tackle.
It only took the Wildcats one play to score.
The Rabun running back took a pitch and scampered 12-yards for a touchdown. The extra point was good and with 23 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Rabun cut the Dawson lead in half 14-7.
Dawson County answered quickly.
Dominy lofted a pass to Brown for a 41-yard touchdown with 9:45 to go before halftime. The extra point was true and Dawson held a commanding 21-7 lead.
The Tigers added another touchdown just 4 minutes before intermission. Fullback Zach Martin bullied in from 6-yards out and with the extra point by Brown, Dawson seemed to be running away with the contest 28-7.
Dawson’s defense held Rabun County on downs to give the ball back to the offense.
On first down, Dominy dropped back to pass. He made his only mistake of the game when a Rabun defensive back intercepted the pass. The turnover led to a Rabun field goal from 27-yards out as the buzzer sounded for halftime. Dawson held a 28-10 lead.
“We had a mental lapse with that interception before half and then we had another lapse when we came out from halftime,” Lee said.
Rabun tallied the only score of the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good and Rabun trailed 28-17.
The Dawson offense was stagnant in the third quarter.
The Tigers couldn’t get a first down and punted the ball back to Rabun.
Dawson’s defense rose to the occasion. Defensive back Levi Wilson intercepted a Wildcat pass and returned the ball down to Rabun’s 37-yard line.
With 6:22 to go Dominy found receiver Bruce Clark for a 21-yard touchdown reception. Brown added the extra point and Dawson held a 35-17 lead.
The Wildcats just wouldn’t go away. Rabun scored on its first play after the kickoff on a 69-yard touchdown run. With the extra point, Dawson held on to a 35-24 lead.
Rabun recovered the onside kick, but the Dawson defense held on as time ran out.
“We can’t have those breakdowns in our kicking game. We have to get that fixed before next week. I thought our guys stepped up when they had to. We had only a couple of breakdowns on defense, but for the most part I thought they played well,” Lee said.
“I thought Tyler (Dominy) had a good night throwing the ball with the exception of that one interception. Eian Perry and Zach Martin ran the ball hard. On defense, I thought Caleb Samples and Scotty Parker played good at outside linebacker, forcing everything back to the middle,” he added.
This is the first time since October 2007 that the Tigers have won back-to-back games.
That year, Dawson defeated Putnam County, Rabun County and Union County in consecutive games.
The stage is now set for next week.
“North Oconee is a good football team. This game now means something for our players. It’s a chance to get into the state playoffs.”
Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. at North Oconee.