In a game befitting of the past two Region 7-AAA champions, a pass deflection on the final play of the game decided the outcome as West Hall outlasted Dawson County 30-23 in double overtime at Spartan Field in Oakwood Friday night.
Cornerback Ashun Favorite gave up at least 7 inches and 25 pounds to Dawson County’s Austin Young but it didn’t matter when he knocked down an attempted fade from quarterback Coey Watson in the back of the end zone on a fourth-and-9 play at the 14-yard line.
The fans stormed the field in celebration in the aftermath.
Said Favorite on the play of the year for the Spartans (4-1): “I knew it was coming to my side because they tried it on the other side on the play before (another pass breakup by linebacker Patrick Hudson) and he’s their big-play receiver.”
Spartans running back Tyrese Osborne (13 carries, 45 yards, 1 touchdown) scored from 3 yards out to give the Spartans the lead on the previous possession to begin the second OT session.
Neither team scored in the first overtime as Watson was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 2 and the Spartans had a 29-yard field goal blocked. The ball was moved back 5 yards after a false start on the previous play.
Osborne entered the game averaging 109 yards per game but was held pretty much in check between the tackles in the first half.
“I just had to give it time and let the holes develop,” Osborne said of his total of 3 yards on just three carries in the first half.
“Other players were making plays for us so I just had to wait my turn,” he said about his game-winning touchdown.
The game started out as an offensive affair, with each team taking turns taking the lead in the first half. Then the defenses took over in the third quarter as both teams totaled just 45 yards combined.
Dawson County (1-1) had 148 yards in the first half to West Hall’s 133. The Tigers had 118 yards rushing while the Spartans had a more balanced attack with 61 on the ground and 72 through the air. Dawson County finished with 235 yards (188 rushing) to West Hall’s 232 (138 rushing).
The game picked up in the fourth quarter when Watson took the Tigers on a drive in which he rushed for 56 yards on 10 carries on a 12-play, four-minute drive. His 2-yard keeper and two-point conversion gave the Spartans a 23-20 lead with 5:20 remaining in the game. All 10 carries on the drive were keepers.
“The year we won region we watched him come in as a freshman and I watched us hit him and he kept getting back up,” Spartans head coach Tony Lotti said of Watson’s performance.
Watson hurt his shoulder sometime in the first half that limited his throwing ability. He completed only three of 12 passes for 36 yards as he alternated with Conner Bearden throughout the second half.
A 43-yard kick return by Osborne led to a 32-yard field goal by Israel Lopez that tied the game at 23. Two delay of game penalties on the Spartans on a fourth-and-1 at the Tigers’ 12 yard line led to the decision by Lotti to go for the field goal instead of the win with 1:39 left to play.
After two three-and-outs by both clubs to begin the game, the Tigers got on the scoreboard first on a 6-yard Watson quarterback keeper to cap an eight-play, 59-yard drive. A 2-yard run by Ryan Gless put them up 8-0 at the 5:27 mark of the first. Big plays on the drive included a 20-yard run by Taylor Cronan (10 carries, 81 yards) off a speed option pitch by Watson and a 17-yard reception by Austin Young (2 receptions, 23 yards).
The home team came back, led by quarterback Jacob Satterfield, who scored on a 1-yard keeper to end an eight-play, 66-yard drive at the 2:45 mark of the first. Justin Hearn had a 21-yard reception on the drive and Osborne had a 22-yard reception on a screen. Satterfield completed 9-of-16 passes for 94 yards with a touchdown.
The Tigers answered as Watson led his team downfield on a seven-play drive, all runs, and he again scored on a 1-yard keeper at the 10:23 mark of the second quarter to give the Tigers a 15-7 lead. It came after Young recovered a fumbled punt return at the Spartans’ 32-yard line.
The Spartans cut the lead to two on a beautifully thrown 9-yard fade to the back of the end zone by Satterfield to George Lira to cap an eight-play, 78-yard drive, keyed by a 13-yard reception to Tommy Oliver on third-and-8 and a 6-yard keeper by Satterfield on third-and-4 to make it 15-13 Tigers at the 5:44 mark of the second.
A 55-yard interception return for a touchdown by Favorite off Bearden’s first pass attempt gave the Spartans a 20-15 lead at the 3:50 mark of the second.
Dawson County had 148 yards in the first half to West Hall’s 133. The Tigers had 118 yards rushing while the Spartans had a more balanced attack with 61 on the ground and 72 through the air.
Of his team’s effort and the game overall, Lotti said, laughing, “I’m kind of sick to my stomach a little bit. I’m getting too old for these up-and-down kind of games. But what you saw tonight was two very well-coached teams and they both competed very well and when that happens a play either way can change the game.”
The Spartans host Rabun County next week in their final non region contest while the Tigers host White County.