A fall chill was in the air Friday night as the Dawson County High School Tigers varsity football team played host to neighboring Forsyth Central. The cool air seemed to bother both offenses as neither seemed to be on track all evening.
An exciting 34-yard field goal, as time expired, by Tigers Max Muldoon sealed the 23-20 victory for Dawson County in a game that neither team seemed to want to win.
The Tigers fumbled with only 1:35 remaining to give the ball to the Bulldogs on the 49-yard line.
Forsyth Central returned the favor on a hard hit from running back Jonah Caviness by defender Kyle Hayes that jarred the ball lose. Hayes recovered on Central's 43-yard line to set up the game-winning field goal by Muldoon.
"I thought we played, at times, very good. At times, we had some lapses. We are still playing with some inexperienced players, which will lead to those moments," Tigers head coach Jeff Lee said.
With the win, Dawson County moved to 3-1 on the season. The Tigers will try and get healthy with an off week this Friday night. Up next for Lee's team will be a trip to the "Brickyard" to face a very talented North Hall club.
"We will take some time off on Monday and Friday of this week. During the week, we will work on getting us better as a team. I want to thank the fan support we have had at our games so far. As we get ready to get back into our region play, we look forward to the challenges," Lee said.
Forsyth Central fell to 0-3 and will face Sprayberry Friday night in its first region contest.
Things seemed promising to begin the ball game on Friday night.
A good size crowd witnessed Dawson County take the opening kickoff and put together a 6-play drive. Lee decided his team should go for a a first down on fourth and 11 from the Tigers' own 31-yard line.
Quarterback Zach Buchan found Chris Sayler on a 69-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was not good and Dawson led 6-0 with 10:25 remaining in the first quarter.
After the touchdown pass Buchan had a rough first half. He completed just 6-of-17 passes for 111 yards.
"I don't know if it was the change in temperature, but several of Zach's passes sailed on him tonight," Lee said.
Central cut the Tigers lead in half with 2:32 remaining in the first quarter. Kicker Anel Ramic nailed a 47-yard field goal to make the score 6-3.
A great punt by Muldoon was bobbled by Bulldog punt returner Michael Branigan and recovered by Richard Palmer on Central's 37-yard line. Eleven plays later, Cody Lamar bulled his way into the end zone from 1-yard out to give Dawson County a 12-3 advantage with 11:03 left before halftime. With the extra point by Muldoon, Dawson led 13-3 and seemed to be in control of the game.
After a turnover on downs on Central's next possession, the Tigers returned the favor and went for it on fourth and 10 from its own 30-yard line. A pass from Buchan to Lamar came up 1-yard short and gave Central the ball on Dawson's 39-yard line.
Five plays later Bulldog running back Jake Gorzsyca scored from four yards out with 2:32 remaining before halftime. The extra point by Ramic was good and cut Dawson's lead to 13-10.
Coach Shane Williamson's team took the lead 17-13 on a pass from quarterback Michael Branigan to wide receiver Jeremiah Jones from 26-yards out. With the extra point, Forsyth Central took a 17-13 lead into halftime.
Both teams had a poor first half offensively. The Tigers were held to 164 total yards with only 54 yards on the ground.
The Tigers defense did a great job containing the run and playing good pass defense. Defensive coordinator Jed Lacey seemed to dial up the right defensive call for much of the evening. Dawson County allowed Forsyth Central just 63 yards on the ground, while giving up only 69 yards in the air for the first two quarters.
Williamson's team ran the ball 10 straight times to open the second half. The plays led to a Ramic 34-yard field goal that extended the Bulldog lead to 20-13 with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter.
Momentum seemed to turn in Dawson's favor when defensive back Chris Sayler stepped in front of a Central receiver and intercepted the ball. Sayler returned the interception to Central 47-yard line with just 16 seconds left in the third quarter.
Nine plays later, Cody Lamar scored his second touchdown from 6-yards out. Muldoon added the extra point, which tied the score at 20-20 with 9:30 remaining.
Lamar finished the contest with 22 carries and 101 yards.
The Dawson defense came up strong in the fourth quarter.
Central decided to go for a first down instead of bringing on its great kicker, Ramic, from the Tiger 31-yard line.
On fourth and three, the Tigers stopped Branigan short of a first down.
Dawson began its winning drive with 1:20 remaining.
After a sack on Buchan to start the drive things looked dismal for the Tigers.
A 12-yard completion to Zach Guy and two interference calls took the Tigers down to the Central 12-yard line. Lamar carried the ball five yards to the seven with only 4.6 second to go.
Muldoon's first attempt was nullified by a 10-yard penalty on the Tigers, moving the ball back to the 17-yard line.
This time the ball carried over the cross bar giving Dawson County its third win of the season.
"I was calm until the penalty happened," Muldoon said. "When the penalty backed the ball up my heart started pounding and I was a little worried."
After the kick was good, Muldoon added: "That was the first time I have ever kicked a game-winning field goal."
Buchan finished the game, connecting on 11 passes to seven different receivers for 162 yards and a touchdown.
Dalton Edwards and Zach Guy each caught three passes for 15 and 33 yards respectively.
The Tigers offense completed the game with 297 total yards, 135 on the ground and 162 in the air.
The Tigers defense allowed Central only 135 rushing on 41 attempts and only 86 yards in the air for a total of 222 yards.