The Dawson County middle school Tigers' football season came to a close with a 14-6 loss at the hands of White County Middle School on Oct. 2.
Dawson County came into the game as the No. 1 seed, while the Warriors were the No. 2 seed from the other sub region.
The game was played at Riverview Middle School.
With the loss, Coach Benjy Edwards' team finished the season with a 5-1 overall record.
White County will move on to play Rabun County Oct. 9 for the Mountain League Championship. Rabun County defeated Clear Creek, 20-12, in the other semi-final game.
Last week's game was plagued with turnovers for the Tigers. Dawson County fumbled the ball twice, losing one of those, and threw two interceptions in the contest.
"I wish I knew the answer to the turnovers," Edwards said. "It has not been a problem all year. We have won the turnover battle all year except for [this game]."
Seventh grade running back Shawn Thomas played exceptionally well for the Tigers all afternoon. Thomas finished the game with 10 rushes for 93 yards and scored Dawson County's lone touchdown.
"Shawn (Thomas) stepped up big for us yesterday. He ran the ball great. He still has another year with us and I am looking forward to having him back next season," Edwards said.
The Tigers took the opening drive and marched 61 yards on 11 plays down to the Warrior 1-yard line. On fourth down, running back Luke Smith was pushed back by the White County defense, stopping the drive just short of the end zone.
Smith completed the game with 61 yards on 15 carries.
The Tigers defense forced a White County fumble on its next possession. Thomas recovered the ball with just 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter at the Tigers 28-yard line.
Thomas then carried the load on the Tigers' next drive, highlighted by a 40-yard scamper from the team's own 45-yardline down to the Warrior 15-yard line.
On second and five, Thomas found the end zone on a five-yard touchdown run. The extra point by Frankie Muldoon was blocked. The Tigers staked out a 6-0 advantage with 7:15 remaining before halftime.
Despite the turnovers on offense the Tigers defense played well all afternoon.
"I thought the defense played well enough for us to win the ball game. We had one mental lapse at the end of the first half that gave them a touchdown. Other than that one play I thought we played pretty well. The offense put them in some bad situations that we were unable to overcome," Edwards said.
The one play mentioned by Edwards happened with time almost out to end the first half. On fourth and 17 from the Dawson County 23-yardline, White County heaved the ball down the right hash. A Warrior receiver made the catch and the Tigers defender slipped and fell.
The Warrior receiver sprinted into the end zone to tie the game at 6-6.
White County converted the two-point conversion with no time on the clock.
The teams went into halftime with White County on top, 8-6.
A dejected Tigers team went into halftime.
The Tigers defense forced White County to punt to start the second half.
But on first and 10 from the 50-yardline, Smith fumbled and the Warriors recovered.
Nine plays later the Warriors scored their second touchdown with 1:37 to go in the third quarter. The two-point conversion was stopped by a swarm of Tigers defenders that included Bryson Broadway, Robert Hudgins and Justin Butler.
Dawson County turned the ball over twice on two interceptions. The last turnover came with 1:01 remaining.
"I can't complain about this season," Edwards said. "We only had six kids returning from last year's team. It was a very successful year. Unfortunately it did not end the way we wanted, but these kids need to keep their heads up and stick together next year at the high school."