By DR. DAVID DAVIS
The table was set and the No. 11 area-ranked Dawson Eagles (7-2, 4-1) were in a position to capture the District 23-6A championship against unbeaten No. 8 area-ranked Alief Taylor (9-0, 5-0).
The first half was as exciting as any game that Dawson has played as both teams had big plays resulting in touchdowns and a 28-28 halftime score.
After Taylor had grabbed a 14-0 first quarter lead, the Eagles came charging back when Osby Mitchell caught a 78-yard bomb from QB Zach Smith on the first play of the second quarter to cut the margin to 14-7.
Dawson tied up the game 14-14 with 8:58 left to go in the first half on a 2-yard Darrius Smith plunge and then the Eagles took the lead when Osby Mitchell scored on an 18-yard scoring strike from Smith to make the score 21-14 with 3:28 left in the second period.
Taylor took less than a minute when Brennan Eagles lofted a long pass down the field. With a Dawson defender in front and on in back of wide receiver Emo Pought, it looked like there would be an interception for the Eagles, but a tipped ball landed in the hands of Pought who in turn eluded the second defender and raced to the end zone to complete a 78-yard touchdown giving the Lions a 21-21 tie at the 2:34 mark.
Dawson quickly responded with a big play as Darrius Smith busted through a huge hole and raced down the middle of the field for a 34-yard scoring dash giving the Eagles a 28-21 lead with 2:00 left before intermission.
But the Dawson defense couldn’t contain the explosive Taylor offense as the Lions tied up the game on a long 47-yard scoring pass to knot up the first half score at 28-28 with only 1:39 showing on the clock.
Most thought the second half would be just as explosive, but the Eagles offense sputtered in the second half while the Lions continue to dominate with two scores in the third quarter and one more in the final period to pull away with a 47-28 district win and handing Dawson with their first league loss.
Taylor finished with 520 total yards while Dawson had 318 yards with most of that coming in the first two quarters.
Zach Smith was 16-of-26 for 244 yards and two TDs. Darrius Smith had 68 yards rushing on 17 carries. Both were shut down in the second half.
Mitchell had 147 yards receiving on nine grabs and two touchdowns. Mason Pierce had three catches for 58 yards.
The Eagles will try to regroup for the season finale when the Hastings Bears (2-7, 2-3) come to The Rig on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:00 p.m.
Dawson will advance to the post-season and more than likely host the Clear Brook Wolverines at The Rig in the first round. Date and time to be announced.
By DR. DAVID DAVIS