There were many storylines Friday night as Dawson traveled to Blairsville to face Union County on its homecoming night.
Weather was a factor, forcing seven turnovers in the game.
In the end it would take a 26-yard field goal by David Scully for Dawson County to pull out a 17-14 victory in overtime.
Dawson County High School Head Football Coach Jeff Lee was ecstatic over the win.
“We came out here with the field being a mess and our kids were able to pull out the win. I’m so proud of them in this weather to play as good as they did. That was a big kick by David,” Lee said.
The Tigers opened the game in their away white uniforms. To start the second half, the team came out with their gold jerseys on.
“We decided earlier in the week to allow the players to change at halftime. We wanted them in dry clothes and socks to start the second half,” Lee said.
Scully began the game with an onside kick. After a mad scramble, Union County recovered the ball at midfield.
On the third play from scrimmage, Panther quarterback Kolt Owenby was picked off by Tiger free safety Ethan Brown. Brown intercepted two more passes to give him what possibly may be a school record three interceptions for the game.
The turnover was just the first of four for Union in the first quarter. Yes, the first quarter, but it was to no avail because Dawson couldn’t capitalize on any of the miscues.
Defensive coordinator Van Samples and his defense took every punch that Union could throw at them and turned them back.
After Brown’s early pick, outside linebacker Eian Perry stepped in front of a Owenby pass at the 5:33 mark of the opening quarter.
After a three and out by the offense, linebacker Nick Marsh fell on an Owenby fumble.
Once again Dawson’s offense couldn’t get anything going, forcing a Scully punt.
Brown had his second interception with 3:08 left in the quarter, stopping a Union drive.
Brown ran the pick back to Dawson’s 35-yard line.
Four plays later, Dawson fumbled.
Dawson’s defense rose up and stopped the Panthers on an unsuccessful fourth down conversion.
“Our defense has been superb the last four games,” said Lee. “They have really kept us in some ballgames.”
The Tiger defense has only given up two touchdowns in the last 11 quarters of play.
Gilreath finally got the Tigers on the scoreboard with 8:18 to play in the second quarter.
Gilreath kept the ball on an option and scampered 65 yards for a Tiger touchdown. Scully added the extra point, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead. The lead was short lived as Union answered with a drive of its own.
Owenby capped off a 5-play drive with a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line. Kicker Micheal Akin added the extra point.
Union’s defense stopped the Tigers on their next offensive possession. But once again the Tiger defense flexed its muscles.
Linebacker Stephen King stepped in front of an Owenby pass and raced untouched into the end zone from 60 yards out. Scully tacked on the extra point and Dawson went ahead 14-7 with only 3:14 left before half.
The Panthers fought back. Union tied the score at 14 when Owenby went untouched into the end zone from 6-yards out. Akin added the extra point.
Both teams stepped on a muddy field to start the second half. The rain was reduced to a drizzle, but sloppy conditions forced both offenses to become conservative.
Neither team was able to add any points during the next two quarters. Defense from each team was dominant.
Union managed to attempt two field goals in the second half, but both were wide right, which kept the game tied at 14.
Dawson’s defense came up big, stopping Union with 13 seconds left in the third quarter, forcing a field goal.
Samples’ group did a great job all night containing the All-Region split end Blake Gowder.
The 6’2” Gowder made some catches, but the Tiger secondary kept him contained and didn’t give up a big play.
Brown picked up his third interception with only 15 seconds remaining, which forced the game into overtime.
“Ethan has been doing a great job all year for us,” Lee said. “Those interceptions were big. Our whole defense was great.”
In overtime, Union had the ball first at the 15-yard line.
Three incomplete passes, one of them blocked by Chase Williams, forced the Panthers to try another field goal. Tiger nose guard, Nick Tobias, split the middle blocking the attempted field goal.
“That was a big play by Peanut (Tobias). It took some of the air out of them,” said Lee.
Dawson now had its turn.
On third down and 12, Gilreath kept the ball advancing down to the 9-yard line.
Scully sloshed through the mud to set up his field goal attempt.
The ball was put down and Scully’s kick was good. The ball sailed through the uprights and the celebration was on.
“That was a big kick,” said Lee. “This game was just amazing.”
The Tigers extended their winning streak to six over the Panthers. Union hasn’t defeated Dawson since 2001.
Dawson will travel to East Jackson for another Region 8-AA showdown this Friday.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
E-mail Pam Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org.