DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Defense and running game. That's what propelled Dawson County to their second region title in program history Friday night as the Tigers took down Lumpkin County, 38-10.
"The defense has been strong all season," said head coach Sid Maxwell. "I think we've given up 40 points in the region which is unbelievable given the types of offenses we have to face in this region."
And the defense showed up in a big way, holding the Indian offense that was fifth in 3A to just 136 yards and only 32 rushing yards. Meanwhile, the Tiger rushing attack, led by Elijah Smith, tallied 272 yards of ground game and over 350 yards total.
"We knew we had to come in and pound the ball," said Smith. "We've been practicing all week knowing that they had a really good defense, so we knew we had to plan really well and throw some things in there they hadn't seen before."
The Indians struck first with a 25-yard field goal from Will Staples that marked the only points of the first quarter. The scoreboard then started to flip as Davis Glass hit Hunter Casserleigh for a 57-yard touchdown pass that gave the Tigers a 7-3 lead.
After a Dom LeBlanc chip shot right before halftime gave Dawson a 10-3 lead, the Indians came out and got a pick-six from Cal Faulkner to tie the game and breathe life into the Indian crowd at the Burial Grounds, but it would quickly be extinguished as Kade Moledor got a pick-six of his own to start the rush of Tiger points.
Kenny Nelson ran it in from 20 yards out to take a 24-10 lead before Smith finished the offensive scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run. Tucker Caine put the icing on the cake with his second interception of the night late in the fourth quarter, returning it to the house to seal the unbeaten record in 7-3A for Dawson County.
Dawson County will now be the top seed in two weeks when the 3A state playoffs start and host a playoff game for the sixth time under Maxwell's leadership and the second straight year.
Meanwhile, Lumpkin County will finish the regular season with a home game against West Hall. With Pickens's win over White County. the Indians clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2014, but their seeding is still up in the air with next week's games in the region to decide it all.