BOGART — A shutout loss that cost North Oconee the region title left the Titans smarting all week.
A blowout win in North Oconee's Region 8-AA play-in game provided the right ointment to take away some of the sting.
North Oconee scored touchdowns in its first six possessions and rolled past Dawson County 42-12 on Friday at Titan Stadium to secure the No. 3 seed in Region 8-AA.
North Oconee (9-1) will travel to Westminster at 7:30 p.m. next Friday in a first-round playoff game.
Last week's 6-0 loss to Elbert County was not only the Titans' first loss of the season, but also knocked them out of contention for the region title.
"Everybody was down after last week's loss," North Oconee running back Lane Thompson said. "We had a good week of practice and felt good again to come out and get some of that bad taste out of our mouths from last week."
North Oconee's multifaceted running game used nine different ballcarriers, led by Jace Brannon who had seven carries for 105 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Nick Colvin added 98 yards on three carries with two touchdowns.
"After last week's game, we told them that they've got to come to play Dawson just like they did last week for Elbert," North Oconee coach Terry Tuley said. "They did. They showed up and went to work just like any other week.
They did a great job."
North Oconee didn't waste time getting on the scoreboard, marching 56 yards in seven plays for a touchdown on the opening possession. Thompson carried the final 6 yards around right end to give North Oconee a 7-0 lead with 9:16 left in the first quarter.
"Our plan was to get off to a fast start," Thompson said. "We didn't know if we could do it or not, but our execution was great. It has been great all week, compared to last week and that was big for our confidence and our momentum."
Thompson ran seven times for 68 yards. On North Oconee's second possession, he caught a 20-yard pass over the middle from Blake Gaubert, dodged a tackler and raced to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown to push the Titans' advantage to 14-0 with 6:04 left in the first quarter of senior night.
"It was really important to get off to the good start," North Oconee linebacker Chris Ranieri said. "We didn't have much of a positive outlook after last week's loss, so we tried to bounce back after that. We bounced back pretty well."
North Oconee dominated the game from start to finish. The Titans outgained the Tigers 323-78 in the first half and scored touchdowns on all five possessions.
Dawson County's most serious threat to take the game's momentum came when the Tigers drove 77 yards in 18 plays to the North Oconee 3-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. Three offensive snaps later, Brannon ran around right end for a 70-yard touchdown and North Oconee led 21-0 with 6:30 left in the first half.
"It was huge," Ranieri said. "It really helped our attitude out there to see something like that happen, to turn things around like that. It's a great feeling."
North Oconee added a 22-yard touchdown run by Colvin and a 16-yard touchdown run by Russ Williams to take a 35-0 halftime lead. Colvin scored on a 67-yard touchdown run in the second half.
North Oconee did not punt in the game.
"We sent our seniors out on a good note, which is the way you want it," Tuley said. "We got into the second half and every senior had played except our punter. Now that's a problem. The punter is a goalie in soccer, so he is not a football player in any derivation. So we coached him up on how to be a fullback and get one play. We didn't want him to set a record as the only senior to never play on senior night."
Dawson County (3-7, 3-3) played against a running clock most of the second half and picked up a 12-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Dominy to Ethan Brown and a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dominy to Bruce Clark in the second half.