When the final buzzer sounded on Friday night, something happened at Tiger Stadium that hadn’t occurred since Aug. 29, 2008 when Dawson County defeated visiting Lumpkin County 26-23 in double overtime.
That was the last time that the Tigers had won a home game. Head Coach Jeff Lee’s Tiger team came away with a hard fought 24-17 win over Fannin County.
Not only was it a home win, but it was a Region 8-AA victory. The Tigers are now tied for first in their sub-region with Banks County, their opponents this Friday, and East Hall.
The win also broke a nine-game losing streak for the Tigers. The team is now 1-4 overall, but more importantly, the team is 1-0 in sub-region play.
“We executed our game plan,” an emotional Lee said after the game. “I’m so proud of our players and the way they played tonight.”
Before a huge homecoming crowd, Dawson established it’s running game early. Sophomore fullback Zack Martin picked up big yards on the Tigers first offensive possession. Martin finished with 119 yards rushing for the game.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard first when quarterback Tyler Dominy found receiver Bruce Clark on an 11-yard touchdown reception with 8:56 to play in the first quarter. The extra point by Ethan Brown was no good and Dawson held a 6-0 lead.
It was the first lead of the season for the Tigers.
Dawson’s defense forced a fumble on Fannin’s first offensive possession of the game. On third and six from the 39-yard line, the Rebel running back dropped the ball and it was recovered by senior Tiger defensive back Cody McGinnis.
However, the Dawson offense didn’t take advantage of great field position and gave the ball back to the Rebels.
Fannin scored with 9:34 left in the second quarter on a 27-yard field goal that cut Dawson’s lead in half, 6-3.
Tiger Ethan Brown got his first of two interceptions with 2:08 to play before halftime on the Fannin 9-yard line.
Three plays later, the Tigers were in the end zone on a Dominy to Brown 49-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good by Brown and made the score 13-3 in favor of the Tigers.
Brown picked off his second interception of the game with eight seconds to go before half at the 21-yard line.
During halftime, Dawson County High School honored its homecoming court with a parade around the track. After the parade, a new homecoming queen, Morgan Bennett, and a king, Ethan Brown were crowned.
Fannin had the ball to start the second half. On the first play from scrimmage, the Rebels coughed up the football.
Tiger Scott Parker recovered to give Dawson the ball at the 10-yard line.
The Rebel defense stiffened and forced a 21-yard field goal by Brown.
Dawson held a commanding 16-3 lead with 10:13 remaining in the third.
Fannin turned the ball over a fifth time on another fumble recovered by Tiger Cody Smith at the 44-yard line.
The Tiger offense couldn’t move the ball and gave it back to Fannin following a punt.
The Rebels wouldn’t go away. On its next two possessions the team took the lead on two touchdown drives. Fannin scored its first touchdown on an 11-yard run and its second touchdown came on an 81-yard run.
The Rebels held the lead 17-16 with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter.
Lee’s team mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter.
Receiver Bruce Clark made two great catches on the 59-yard scoring drive.
The Tigers found the end zone with 5:16 left to play in the game on a Dominy to Clark 20-yard touchdown pass.
Dawson converted a 2-point conversion on a Dominy to Martin pass that made the score 24-17.
Dominy finished the game with 185 yards passing and three touchdown passes. More importantly, the Dawson offense didn’t turn the ball over.
The Tiger defense came up big during Fannin’s next two offensive drives and held them out of the end zone.
Dawson kneeled down to secure the win. With 0.8 seconds remaining the Tigers stormed the field in celebration of the win.
“Our defense played good enough to win,” Lee said. “Our offense executed the best they have all year. Our offensive line scored passing or higher and played really well Friday. We were able to establish the run and didn’t have to pass the ball as much.”
The Tigers will face Banks County Friday. The team comes into the game with an impressive 4-1 record. The team has wins against Athens Christian Academy, Social Circle, Riverside Military Academy and Union County.
“They are about like Gilmer and Pickens County. If we continue to improve at practice, I think we will have a great chance to win. We have to stop them on defense,” Lee said about the Tigers next opponent.
The Leopards are led by senior quarterback Harrison Dale. Dale threw for three touchdowns against Union last Friday.
Banks relies on two receivers, Justin Fincannon and Marquaze Maddox, as well as running back Dylan Laukey.
“Their (Banks) quarterback is really good and we have to find a way to stop their running game,” Lee said.
The game will be played at Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.