GAINESVILLE — The streak is over.
North Hall held on in a classic region battle to beat Dawson County and break the Tigers' three-game win streak, 40-37, Friday night at The Brickyard.
"I didn't know what to expect," North Hall coach Dave Bishop said. "We didn't know if it was going to be a score fest or a defensive battle. It got a little hairy at the end, but I told the kids all we needed was a first down and Cody Smith broke the trap to get the first down."
As Bishop said, it did get a bit hairy late in the fourth quarter after Luke Brown nailed a 29-yard field goal with 2:03 left to give the Trojans a 40-29 lead.
Dawson County's Zach Holtzclaw hit Dakohta Sonnichsen on a pass over the middle that went for 70 yards and a score. Holtzclaw's 3-yard run for the 2-point conversion cut the lead to a field goal. 40-37.
Holtzclaw finished the night 15-of-25 for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Sonnichsen hauled in seven passes for 208 yards and two scores.
Flashback to last year where the Trojans led 10-7 late and needed a first down to ice the game but failed to convert. The failure led to the game-tying field goal from Dawson's Caleb Bonesteel. Dawson went on to win the 2018 meeting, 17-10, in overtime.
Spring the clock forward a year and the Trojans (7-3, 5-1 Region 7-3A) were almost in the same position again, needing a first down to squash the Tigers' hopes of another game-tying field goal or even a game-winning touchdown.
It didn't come without a few gasps from the North Hall faithful, however, then a big sigh of relief when Jacob Dickey unearthed the football on the Tigers' onside kick attempt.
At their own 47-yard line, Bishop knew they would need to cash in yards for first downs to grind out the final 1:44.
The Trojans, though, eventually found themselves facing another 3rd-and-7, needing a first down to keep the ball away from the Tigers big-play offense.
"I felt we were in the same position as last year," Bishop said. "I reminded the guys in the huddle of last year. We needed a first down last year to seal the game and didn't get it."
Smith answered the call when he broke the trap play for a 53-yard run and a first down.
With the win, the Trojans will host Lovett in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
"It's been a while since we've been back here. I know our fans, community and players are excited to be here. It's not going to be an easy way. I'd much rather be playing here than on the road.
Dawson County (7-3, 5-2) will travel to Westminster on Friday. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
VOLLE THE PLAYMAKER
When the Trojans needed a big play, Luke Volle was there.
The senior wide receiver/defensive back made his presence known, hauling in 3 passes for 89 yards, including a massive 60-yard touchdown reception to push Trojans ahead 37-21 early in the fourth quarter.
Volle also snagged a Holtzclaw pass and returned it 47 yards for a score, and a leaping 27-yard catch to bring his team out of the end zone in the second half.
"We had a kid go out and he's kind of the heart soul of our team both offensively and defensively, Dalton Battle," Bishop said. "We told the kids that you're going to have to step up and make plays that you haven't made all year and Luke was that guy tonight. He made three of our four plays on offense and the Pick 6 on defense. So it's hard to not make a big deal about what he did tonight."
THE ONE-TWO PUNCH
Bishop knows what he has in senior running backs JT Fair and Jacob Dickey. The duo combined for more than 200 yards rushing and three touchdown on Friday. Before senior running back JT Fair exited the game in the third quarter with an injury, he was tough to stop, gaining 140 yards by halftime and finishing the night with 167 yards and two scores. He had scores of 42 yards and 68 yards.
"He's a special kid," Bishop said. "He's one of the kids you put the ball in his hands, he's going to make plays. He had some big plays that sustain us."
And Dickey finished with 72 yards, including a 41-yard score with 8:17 to go in the third quarter.
"The reason JT had some big runs is because Jacob is blocking down on the other side," Bishop said. "He's a tremendous blocker in our Wing-T, so it was definitely a tag-team effort."
ARE YOU HAPPY! IT WAS A SCORE FEST
The speculation about the score of the game was finalized when the final horn sounded at The Brickyard: yes, it was a score fest.
Although the game started a bit slow, Dawson and North Hall combined for 77 points and 849 total yards of offense. It was a polar opposite of last year's overtime battle that ended in a 17-10 Tigers win.
The stat column also showed the glaring contrasting styles of each team. Dawson finished with 327 passing yards. North Hall had 110. Dawson finished with 101 rushing yards. North Hall racked up 311 yards. And both teams ended the night with 20 first downs.