It took more than 48 minutes for North Hall and Dawson County to settle who would come out of Region 7-3A as the second-seeded team. But an overtime touchdown pass from Tiger quarterback Sevaughn Clark to tight end TJ Wilson and a holding penalty on the Trojans’ (8-2, 4-2 Region 7-3A) answering drive that negated a Daniel Jackson equalizer were just enough to push Dawson County (9-1, 4-1) to a 17-10 overtime victory at home.
“We made some mistakes, and those mistakes cost us,” said North Hall quarterback David Seavey. “Dawson’s a good opponent. They put up a good fight. It is what it is.”
Just two plays after Wilson’s score, Jackson took a pitch around the right side, extending the ball over the plane and appearing to come up when the Trojans needed him the most. But a holding call on the play pushed the team back to a second and 19 situation, and like they did for most of the night, the Trojans had difficulty picking up chunk yardage.
Following an incompletion from Seavey on second down, JT Fair’s pass attempt on a trick play was intercepted, sealing the game for the Tigers.
“That’s a good football team,” North Hall head coach David Bishop said of Dawson County. “We don’t get credit for as good as we are with all the rankings and all that other junk, but we knew going in that we could play with these guys, and our kids showed it.”
North Hall was led offensively by JT Fair — who carried nine times for 62 yard and caught two passes for 34 yards — as well as Daniel Jackson, who had 12 carries for 21 yards and two receptions for 16 yards and the team’s only touchdown. And despite having offensive difficulties for much of the night, North Hall very nearly won the game in regulation.
The Trojans trailed for much of a first half in which they picked up just 66 yards and only one first down. A 34-yard score from Dawson County running back Ahmad Kamara put the Tigers on the board early, and North Hall struggled for much of the night to match that offensive output, going into the break down by a score.
“You’ve got to give your hats off to coach Maxwell and their coaches for having their kids ready to play and shut us down the way that they did in the first half,” North Hall coach David Bishop said.
But the second half was an entirely different story. The Trojans continued to keep things locked down defensively — opening the half by turning over the Tigers on downs — and the offense started to show signs of life as well.
A 55-yard rush from JT Fair set the team up for their first score of the night — a chip-shot field goal to draw within four points at 7-3. Then, midway through the fourth quarter, a Matthew Gunter sack forced the Tigers to punt from deep inside their own territory, setting up North Hall with excellent field position.
“It’s really encouraging, knowing (he’s a) young player, and knowing he’s playing not just for him, but for the team,” Seavey said of Gunter’s sack, one of three he had on the night.
A facemask penalty on the ensuing drive brought the Trojans into striking distance, and a 21-yard pass from Seavey to Jackson put North Hall on top for the first time on the night.
“Obviously character is revealed when things are tough, and our kids played hard in the second half,” Bishop said. “They were able to come back.”
But North Hall could not hang on to its narrow lead.
After forcing a three-and-out following Jackson’s touchdown and having a chance to run the clock out, the Trojans netted 1 yard lost over three plays, forcing them to give the ball right back to the Tigers. Dawson County took full advantage of the opportunity, returning the punt all the way down to North Hall’s 13.
And while the Tigers could not punch the ball into the end zone to end the game in regulation, kicker Caleb Bonesteel was perfect on his field goal attempt to end regulation to send the contest to overtime, where Dawson County managed to pull off the victory.
With the loss, North Hall finishes third in Region 7-3A, meaning it will open the postseason on the road. But according to the Trojans — coaches and players — the venue of the team’s playoff matchup is not going to make a difference in the outcome.
“I’m completely confident in our team,” Seavey said. “I’m just ready to see how far we can go in the playoffs.”