The Dawson County High School football team has learned over and over this season that turnovers can make or break you.
Friday night was no different for the Tigers, as they turned the ball over four times in a 33-0 loss to Riverside Military Academy on Senior Night at Tiger Stadium.
The loss put Dawson’s overall record at 3-7 on the season. It is the second consecutive season that the Tigers finished with only three wins.
With the win, Riverside (7-3, 6-3 Region 8-AA) is poised to make its first trip to the Georgia High School Association’s state playoffs in the program’s history.
The Eagles will play against No. 2 seed Pepperell (9-1, 5-0 Region 7-AA) next Friday in Lindale.
Dawson County was never in the ballgame. Riverside took control early.
Eagle running back Julian Suber broke free for a 3-yard touchdown run with 5:47 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point was good and Riverside jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead.
Junior running back Suber had 102 yards rushing in the first quarter. He finished the game with 27 carries for 167 yards and two rushing touchdowns, and stands at 1,662 yards rushing for the season.
Suber didn’t just make his presence known on offense. He also scored on a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minute of the game.
Suber’s ability to run and find the open lanes opened up Riverside’s passing game.
“He is the best running back we have seen this season,” said Dawson County High School Head Football Coach Jeff Lee. “Suber is hard to tackle and he has so much speed in the open field.”
Riverside added another touchdown with 6:28 remaining before halftime.
Quarterback Lucas Bersin found Klye Glennon on the sideline. Glennon bowled over a Dawson defensive back on his way to the end zone. This time the extra point was no good. Riverside led 13-0.
Bersin finished the game with 14 completions for 270 yards passing and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns were to Glennon.
The second throwing touchdown resulted after a fumble by a Tiger running back at the 45-yard line.
Bersin hooked up with his favorite receiver again for a 27-yard touchdown. The Eagles added the extra point and went into the dressing room at halftime with an insurmountable 20-0 lead.
The Dawson offense found a new life to start the second half. Starting on the 22-yard line, the team put together a 10-play drive. The offensive thrust was led by the running of Eian Perry, Ethan Brown, Nick Tobias and Chase Gilreath.
Catches by receivers TJ Byrd, Justin Wende and Stephen King also helped move the ball.
On fourth and goal at the Riverside 5-yard line, Gilreath couldn’t hook up with King, and turned the ball over to the Eagles. It was the last breath for Dawson.
Jacob Perry provided the only defensive highlight in the second half. Perry intercepted a Bersin pass at the Dawson 44-yard line with 11:40 remaining in the contest.
Suber added two more touchdowns in the second half to seal the 33-0 win.
“They may be the best team we have seen all season,” remarked Lee. “Riverside has everything you want, with size, speed and strength.”
The Tigers managed only 195 yards of total offense for the game.
As the final buzzer sounded, ending the Tigers’ season, the players lined up to wish their seniors goodbye.
Playing in their last game at Dawson County High School were: Cody Tobias, Nick Tobias, TJ Byrd, Justin Wende, Matt Christopher, Tommy Lin, Jacob Perry, Evan Weatherford, David Scully, Kelsey Boyle, Isaac Martin, John Knudsen and Cody Cox.
“Filling the shoes of these guys next year will be tough. They did everything we asked them to do. We sorely are going to miss them,” Lee said about his departing senior class.
E-mail Pam Jacobs at email@example.com.