DAWSONVILLE — This one lived up to the billing -- and then some.
With second place in Region 7-3A and a home playoff game on the line, Dawson County and North Hall slugged it out in regulation before the Tigers pulled away for a 17-10 overtime victory in Dawsonville.
“It’s always a dream come true to be able to play at home in game 11,” Dawson County coach Sid Maxwell said. “We’ve been very fortunate the last three years to have that opportunity. Hats off to my coaching staff and team for their effort, and hats off to North Hall. It was a great battle between the both of us.”
Indeed, it was a case of two determined defenses very nearly cancelling out the other -- with two stellar offenses resigned to a few big plays.
The Tigers offense got theirs early on a 27-yard touchdown from Ahmad Kamara -- only to watch the Trojan gets theirs late on a 21-yard pass from David Seavey to Daniel Jackson. One field goal apiece ensured the game would not be decided in regulation.
Overtime belonged to Dawson, however, as the Tigers' TJ Wilson ran up the seam and caught a 14-yard pass from Vaughn Clark to set the stage for Dawson's defense. The Trojans looked for another big pass play, but watched as Dawson picked off a double reverse trick play to seal the game.
It was in contrast to a wild finish.
North Hall looked to be in control late courtesy a 10-7 lead on Jackson's scoring catch with 4:34 remaining. But the Tigers forced one last North Hall punt, and made the most of it courtesy a 65-yard punt return from Dakohta Sonnichsen. North Hall's defense held firm in the shadow of the goal post, but Caleb Bonesteel converted a 19-yard field goal to send the contest into overtime.
Kamara carried the load for Dawson County's offense throughout, toting the ball 18 times for 80 yards and a touchdown that put his team up 7-0 late in the opening quarter. Clark ran 14 times for 40 yards and completed six passes on 14 attempts for 45 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Both offenses came into the night averaging over 40 points per game on the season, but it was the defenses who dominated the game tonight.
There were only 11 total first downs in the ball game, four for North Hall and seven for the Tigers.
The Trojans came into the game averaging over 300 rushing yards per game, but tonight was a different story. The agile Tigers’ defense only allowed 194 yards total, and only 121 on the ground.
Fair proved the only North Hall rusher able to consistently gain positive yardage. Fair finished with 77 yards rushing on eight attempts, and caught two passes for 33 yards.
Seavey was forced to throw the ball more than usual thanks to a tenacious Dawson run defense that slowed the Trojans' powerful wing-T. Seavey completed six passes on 12 attempts for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Dawson County (9-1, 5-1) will host Haralson County in the first round of the playoffs next Friday.
Meanwhile, North Hall (8-2, 4-2) will travel to face Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe in the first round.
NORTH HALL.............0....0....3....7....0 -- 10
DAWSON COUNTY....7....0....0....3....7 -- 17
DC -- Kamara 27-yard run (Bonesteel kick) 0-7, 0:17
NH -- Sanchez 22 field goal, 3-7, 2:03
NH -- Jackson 21 pass from Seavey (Sanchez kick) 10-7, 4:34
DC -- Bonesteel 19 field goal, 10-10, 0:08
DC -- Wilson 14-yard pass from Clark (Bonesteel kick) 17-10