The 7-AAA champion Dawson County Tigers kept the dream alive Friday night, defeating Spencer High’s Green Waves 22-12 in the second round of the state playoffs.
"I just love being on this team and leading this team,” said Sophomore Quarterback Coey Watson, who threw for two touchdowns and ran a third one in at Tiger Stadium. “I’ve never had so much fun in my life, and I can’t wait to play the next game.”
With the win, the Tigers set a school mark for most wins in a season (9) and will advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history to face No. 2 Blessed Trinity who defeated Jefferson 38-12 to set the match-up.
The Tigers won a coin toss Saturday morning to get home field advantage for Friday's game.
A pass to Luke Martin for a touchdown in the first quarter, followed by a successful two-point conversion, had the Tigers on the board first.
Watson next connected with Wide Receiver Tucker Maxwell to lead 15-6 with less than two minutes left in the half.
Dawson got the ball to start the second half and looked to build upon the momentum gained from its first-half score. Then plans changed.
With just over a minute elapsed in the half, the Tigers found themselves without Maxwell and running back Hunter Mitchell (10 carries for 59 yards in the first half), both injured within two plays of each other.
By the end of the third quarter, Dawson was ahead 22-12 after Watson ran in a touchdown from the three-yard line, and then held Spencer scoreless in the fourth to claim the victory and be the first team in Dawson County football history to make it to the state quarterfinals.
"It was a great night. We battled through a lot,” Watson said. “It’s the first time in school history that we’ve ever been in the Elite Eight. I’m pretty excited."
It was 1999 the last time a Dawson County team made it to a round two playoff game. The Tigers were defeated 40-7 by the Lincoln County Red Devils that year.
Coach Sid Maxwell, who came to Dawson in April from Lambert High School in neighboring Forsyth County and transformed the struggling team, said he knew from day one that this Tigers team was something special.
"What a great night for Dawson County and Dawson County football,” he said. “I told these boys I love them, and I’m proud of them.”
Dawson County has continuously dominated their opponents week after week, following a disappointing loss to Fannin County on Oct. 16.
The Tigers allowed no points the next two games with Banks and Lumpkin counties.
The 45-0 shutout against Banks guaranteed the Tigers a spot in the playoffs.
The 41-0 win over rival Lumpkin County cemented the Tigers as 7-AAA region champions, a first in Dawson County High School history.
They finished the regular season with a 17-14 non-region win over Johnson.
DCN regional staff contributed to this story.