Interview with Tom Graves, part 4 of 4Times news video
War Eagles 27, Tigers 22
Difference maker: Chestatee quarterback Jordan Degraff accounted for four touchdowns, including a 20-yard pass to Kelly Arthur with two minutes to play that proved to be the winning score.
Stat that matters: Dawson County came away with just three points after driving inside the Chestatee 10 twice in the first half.
Turning point: Chestatee defensive back Justin Spears broke up a pass and teamed with P.J. White to stop Dawson County running back Will Anglin 1-yard short on fourth-and-10 on the Tigers' final drive.
Who's next: Chestatee hosts Monroe Area on Friday. Dawson County gets a week off before opening Region 8 North-AA play at Fannin County.
One quarterback walked off the field with a big grin; the other in tears.
But both should be proud after stellar performances in a game that, excuse the cliché, no one deserved to lose.
Jordan Degraff hit Kelly Arthur on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:55 to play, helping Chestatee survive a furious second-half rally by Dawson County for a thrilling 27-22 win Friday at War Eagles Field.
Degraff threw a touchdown and ran for two more in the first half, as the War Eagles went into the locker room with a seemingly commanding 21-3 lead.
The second half couldn’t have been more different.
Dawson County took the opening possession and marched 80 yards in 16 plays, cutting the deficit to 21-10 on Zack Martin’s 5-yard touchdown run.
Chestatee drove to the Dawson 3-yard line on its ensuing possession before turning it over on a botched handoff that was recovered by Scott Parker.
The Tigers then went 90 yards in 13 plays and made things very interesting when Tyler Dominy found Bruce Clark in the corner of the end zone. After a failed two-point conversion, Chestatee’s lead had dwindled to 21-16 early in the fourth quarter.
Dawson wasn’t through. After forcing a punt, Martin finished another drive with his second touchdown of the game, a 1-yard plunge that gave the Tigers their first lead at 22-21 with just over four minutes to play.
That was plenty of time for Degraff, who grabbed his team’s attention in the huddle and led them on a seven-play, 65-yard drive, capped by Arthur’s touchdown on a bubble screen.
“I just looked at them and said, ‘Don’t give up. We got this,’” Degraff said.
Degraff finished 6 of 9 for 184 yards with two touchdowns. The junior also rushed for 67 yards, scoring on runs of 8 and 38 yards to lead the War Eagles to their first 3-0 start since 2007.
Dawson tried to mount one final drive, but P.J. White and Justin Spears teamed up to tackle Will Anglin 1 yard short of a first down on fourth-and-10.
“The adrenaline was pumping,” said Spears, who also had a key pass break-up on the clinching defensive stand. “This is a huge boost for us, and we’ll be pumped for next Friday.”
The War Eagles host Monroe Area next.
The Tigers (1-3) get a week off to recover from the emotional loss, before opening Region 8-AA North play at Fannin County.
“We preached 48 minutes to our kids at halftime, and they never stopped,” said Dawson County coach Jeff Lee. “We knew we had to play a near-perfect second half to get back in the game against a very good and undefeated Chestatee team. And we almost did, but we came up 1 yard short.”
The loss spoiled a promising performance from Dominy. The Tigers’ signal-caller hit on his first nine attempts and completed 23 of 29 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown. In last year’s 55-7 loss to Chestatee, Dominy threw five interceptions, four of which were returned for touchdowns.
Chestatee kicker/punter Leo Molina injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter and did not return, although coach Stan Luttrell said he’d be OK.