Adairsville comes up short in opening round loss to Dawson County
The Adairsville Tigers lost a back-and-forth battle to Dawson County Friday night and were eliminated at home in the first round of the GHSA Class AAA state playoffs.
Adairsville trailed 21-3 early to the visiting maroon and gold Tigers, but scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 24-21 lead at halftime. The two teams continued to trade punches in the second half, but Dawson County was able to ultimately prevail, 45-31. Adairsville missed a 43-yard field goal attempt and was stopped on downs at the 20-yard line early in the first quarter before Dawson County took a 7-0 lead on a 9-yard pass from Zach Holtzclaw to Max Moon. Caleb Bonesteel converted the first of his five PAT kicks for the visiting Tigers. Adairsville kicker Emanuel Lopez connected on a 31-yard field goal with 1:16 left in the opening quarter to make the score 7-3, but Dawson would convert their next two possessions.
Holtzclaw capped a drive with a 1-yard plunge with 10:12 to go in the half and Conley Dyer broke loose for a 40-yard scoring scamper with 8:51 remaining that gave Dawson County a 21-3 advantage. Adairsville clawed their way back, however, to take a three-point lead to the intermission locker room. Eli Agnew scored on a 14-yard run at the 6:41 mark of the second period. Courtney Slocum scored from 21-yards out on a speed option pitch with 3:13 left in the half, and Chris Roper punched in a 5-yard run with 19 seconds remaining in the period.
Ja’Maury Johnson intercepted a pass to help set up the second of those three drives, while Slocum, Roper, and Agnew all had key runs in the final Adairsville drive of the first half. The two teams continued to trade punches in the second half, but it was Dawson County that grabbed the lead for good on the opening possession of the third quarter. Dyer scored his second touchdown of the night with a 39-yard run to give the visitors a 28-24 advantage. An interception by Dawson’s Hayden McKinney stopped the next Adairsville possession at the 25-yard line, and Holtzclaw connected with Dakohta Sonichsen on the next play for a 75-yard touchdown as Dawson County took a 35-24 lead with 7:20 left in the third quarter.
Dawson County drove to the Adairsville one-yard line on their next possession, but had to settle for a 17-yard field goal by Bonesteel. That gave Dawson a 38-24 lead in the final two minutes of the third period.
A long run by Slocum at the end of the third quarter gave the Adairsville offense some life to start the final period. Quarterback Conner Crunkelton later connected with Slocum on a 21-yard touchdown pass that narrowed the margin to 38-31 with 11:33 to go in the game.
Now with some momentum, Adairsville recovered an onside kick but the ensuing drive would be stopped by Dawson County.
The final points of the game came at the 9:37 mark of the fourth quarter when Dawson scored on a 38-yard fumble recovery for touchdown off a fake punt attempt by Adairsville.
The teams exchanged possessions in the final minutes, but Dawson County was able to grind out the clock and held on for a 14-point win. Adairsville's Dylan Matthews finished the night with seven receptions for 142 yards.
Adairsville’s season ends with a 6-4 record. Dawson County (6-5) advances to the second round to play next Friday at Oconee County. Oconee County defeated Westminster in the first round, 21-7. Rockmart was the only playoff team from Region 6-AAA to advance to the second round. The Yellow Jackets defeated White County 48-35 and will host top-ranked Cedar Grove in the Round of 16. LaFayette lost to Cherokee Bluff 35-7 and North Murray fell to North Hall 35-28.