By DR. DAVID DAVIS
Facing a team that has no chance to make the playoffs and playing their final game of the season makes for a dangerous combination.
Hastings began the season with five straight losses before they got a 16-14 win over district foe Brazoswood. After a loss to Pearland, the Bears pulled off a win against district rival Elsik before dropping the final two games of the season including 35-33 to Dawson in the season finale for a 2-8 overall mark.
It was the last game that Hastings was playing for the season and they played with the intention of knocking off the Eagles hoping to send them into the playoffs on a negative note.
The game was actually good for Dawson as they got a strong challenge before moving on to the next stage of the season and it is better to be playoff ready so the Bears did the Eagles a favor by making them work hard for a victory.
After forcing the Eagles to two consecutive three-and-outs to open up game, the Bears got a short punt by Dawson to start on the Eagles 24. It took only one play as Javon Williams took a handoff and burst up the middle for a 24-yard scoring run and a 7-0 lead with 7:54 left in the opening quarter.
But Dawson answered quickly in only three plays capped off with a sensational scoring pass from QB Zach Smith to WR Nico Thomas who made an incredible catch covering 44-yards. Claire Jeffries booted the PAT to tie up the game 7-7 with 6:55 left in the first.
Hastings went on a 10-play, 56-yard drive to the Dawson 25 before facing fourth and six. A 42-yard field goal attempt missed to the left leaving the game tied.
Dawson moved from their own 25 in 10 plays to score as Smith hit Chase Smith on a 15-yard scoring strike for a 14-7 advantage with 27 seconds left in the first period.
After the teams traded punts, Dawson began their drive at their own 22.
Sparked by several key passes and runs by running back Darrius Smith, the Eagles moved the ball down to the Hastings 1-yard line and it looked like Dawson was going to put some distance between the Bears, but Darrius Smith took the ball and lost it at the Hastings 1.
Hastings was forced to punt after three plays deep in their own territory, but they got a break when Dawson fumbled the ball at their own 37 allowing the Bears to go back on offense.
It took only six plays as Hastings scored on a 33-yard scoring pass from Golden Vi-uri to Austin Ogunmakin to knot up the score at 14-14 with 27 seconds left in the first half.
But Dawson wasn’t finished as the Eagles a short pooch kick inside Hastings territory.
On the final play of the first half, Smith once again threw a deep pass in the Hastings end zone and Thomas went high in the air to back the unbelievable catch for the score with no time left before intermission. The PAT was good and the Eagles had a 21-14 lead at the half.
Hastings wasted no time getting on the board to begin the second as they drove 59-yards in six plays capped off by a 26-yard scoring toss from Vi-uri to Raymond Rhodes with 9:13 left in the third quarter. However, the PAT missed left and the Eagles were clinging to a 21-20 lead.
Dawson answered with their first second-half drive as Zach Smith scored on a 10-yard keeper at the 6:40 mark. The PAT was good and the Eagles were up 28-20.
After Hastings was forced to punt on their next possession, it looked like the Eagles were going to drive for another score, but the drive stalled when they fumbled at the Hastings 33 after moving the ball from their own 26.
Hastings promptly got back in the game with a 7-play, 45-yard scoring drive capped off by a Williams to Rhodes touchdown option pass. The two-point conversion to tie up the game was stopped by the Dawson defense leaving the Bears trailing 28-26 with 10:01 left in the game.
It took less than a minute for Dawson to answer as Smith hit Thomas with a 72-yard scoring bomb with 9:05 left in the contest.
Thomas caught the ball down the left sideline, fought off the defender, and then escaped to score the clutch touchdown to give the Eagles a 35-26 lead.
Hastings scored their final touchdown after getting the ball at their own 37.
Six plays later, Williams caught a pass from Jeremy Caston from the Dawson 37 with 2:05 left to make the score 35-33 following the PAT.
The onside kick was recovered by the Eagles and Dawson was able to run out the clock for close district win.
Zach Smith was 17-of-25 passing for 233 yards and four touchdowns.
Darrius Smith had 22 carries for 144 yards rushing while Cortlyn Robinson had 16 totes for 79 yards.
Thomas caught six passes for 169 yards and three TDs. Osby Mitchell had seven grabs for 24 yards. Chase Smith had two catches for 30 yards and one TD.
Dawson closes out the regular season with an 8-2 overall mark and will advance to the playoffs on Friday, Nov. 11 at 7:00 p.m. when they host the Clear Brook Wolverines at The Rig in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Region III Div. II post-season.
By DR. DAVID DAVIS