The team walked hand-in-hand as they entered Ed Bryant Field in Carnesville last Friday night.
The unified Tigers put up 18 first half points and came away from Franklin County with a huge 25-7 win. The team's first of the season.
Head Coach Jeff Lee hunched over from the waist after the final buzzer sounded. The relief was evident on his face.
"I'm so happy for our kids. They work so hard and finally something good has happened to them. I'm so proud of them," Lee said.
According to Lee, the team has overcome so much in the first five weeks of the season.
For one, injuries have plagued the Tigers, including Friday night when first team freshman quarterback Coey Watson took a hit to the head and had to be removed from the game.
Entering the game, to take his first varsity snap at quarterback, was running back Jeffrey Partain.
Partain did a masterful job and led the offense in the victory.
"Jeffrey came in and played so well, once the game slowed down for him," Lee said.
Defensively the Tigers threw the "kitchen sink" at the host Lions. Setting the tone was defensive back Dylan Nix. On Franklin's first possession of the game, Nix scooped up a fumble and sprinted 47-yards for a Tigers touchdown.
The extra point was not good as it hit the right upright. But Dawson County held its first lead in many weeks, 6-0, with 7:51 to go in the first quarter.
Later in the quarter, Nix intercepted a pass from the Lions quarterback that set up Dawson County's third touchdown on the Tigers 39-yardline.
"I owe everything to Coach [Jed] Lacey. He really prepared us for this game," Nix said after the game.
The Tigers' defense was strong all night. The unit forced five Franklin County turnovers. Nix had an interception and fumble recovery, Kyle Hayes and Jake Phillips also had a fumble recovery and Colin Glover picked off a pass in the second half.
Leading tacklers on defense were Luke Martin, Glover, Conor Woodbury and Jeremy Whalen with 13 tackles each. Brett Whalen also picked up 12 tackles for the Tigers.
The Tigers defense held Franklin to 180 total yards, 126 rushing and 54 passing in the win.
"Our defense really played big for us tonight," Lee said.
On offense, the Tigers used a ball control running game to wear down a strong defensive line of the Lions.
Andrew Goley had a big night running for 151 yards on 20 carries.
Before he was injured Watson completed all three pass attempts for 45 yards and a touchdown pass. The touchdown pass came on a 31-yard connection to Dalton Edwards on third and nine. It was the Tigers second score of the night with 4:27 left in the first quarter.
The two-point conversion was unsuccessful and Dawson County held a 12-0 lead.
Edwards had three catches on the night for 42 yards.
Dawson County finished with 219 yards on the ground and 73 yards in the air.
In relief, Partain was four for six passing.
Franklin County had only one scoring possession. The Lions mounted a 7-play, 69-yard drive to open the second half. The Lions scored on an 8-yard run, and with the extra point, trimmed Dawson County's lead to 18-7.
The Tigers answered in the fourth quarter with a score of their own. Goley sprinted down the middle of the field on a 38-yard touchdown to open Dawson's lead to 24-7.
The extra point was good by Peyton Allen, giving the Tigers a 25-7 victory.
Dawson County is now 1-5 overall, but more importantly 1-2 in Region 7-AAA play. Up next for the Tigers will be Fannin County. It will be homecoming week for Lee's troops.
The Rebels come into the contest with a 3-3 record with wins over Murray County, 55-7, Armuchee, 35-0, and Banks County, 30-23.
Fannin County's three losses are to Gilmer, 41-7, Union County, 35-8, and Lumpkin County, 34-20. The team is 1-2 in region play.
Last season Dawson County defeated Fannin 45-14.