DAWSONVILLE – Forsyth Central traveled to Dawson County Friday night still seeking its first victory of the season. For much of the second half, it seemed the Bulldogs would indeed steal a road win, but some late miscues gave Dawson enough opportunities to come back and win a close one 23-20.
The Central offense was unable to move the ball effectively for the entire fourth quarter, aside from one drive, which ended in an interception by Dawson’s Chris Sayler.
Late in the fourth, Central’s defense forced a fumble at their own 45-yard line, giving the Bulldogs an opportunity to seal the game with a scoring drive. But on the second play from scrimmage, the Tigers answered with a forced fumble of their own. From the Central 43-yard line the Tigers drove, aided by two pass interference calls, to the 12-yard line with nine seconds remaining. After an illegal substitution penalty backed the Tigers up five yards on their first field goal attempt, senior kicker Max Muldoon drilled a 34-yard field goal as time expired to win it for Dawson.
Dawson didn’t rely on the passing game to make up the deficit in a hurry. Instead, they put the ball in the hands of their running backs, most notably Cody Lamar, as they attempted to tie the game. After marching the ball down the field early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers were able to do just that on a 7-yard run by Lamar. An extra point knotted up the score and set up a heartbreaking series of events for the Bulldogs faithful.
Dawson stalled on offense to begin the game, but showed confidence in the offense by going for it on a fourth-and-long situation at their own 31-yard line. Tigers quarterback Zack Buchan dropped back and quickly hit wide receiver Chris Sayler in stride, allowing Sayler to run untouched for a 69-yard touchdown. A bobbled snap failed the extra point attempt, but the Tigers held a 6-0 lead.
Dawson added another touchdown on Cody Lamar’s 1-yard run up the middle. The Tigers made the extra point to go up 13-0. The Bulldogs’ offense responded, driving to the Dawson 30-yard line before turning to kicker Anel Ramic for a 47-yard field goal attempt. Ramic delivered, putting the Bulldogs on the board and gave the Central sidelines something to cheer about as they cut into the Dawson lead 13-3.
The Bulldogs found the end zone when senior running back Jake Gorczyca took the ball at the Dawson 3-yard line and rumbled across the goal line. After adding the extra point the Bulldogs trailed by just a field goal with 2:32 left in the half. The Central defense stopped the Tigers on a three-and-out, giving senior quarterback Michael Branigan and the Bulldogs offense an opportunity to score before the half.
After moving the ball down the field with an efficient passing attack and a defensive pass interference call against the Dawson defense, the Bulldogs reached the Tigers’ 20-yard line. With 29 seconds remaining in the half, wide receiver Jeremiah Jones leaped high to pull in Branigan’s pass in the right corner of the end zone and give the Bulldogs a 17-13 lead at the half.
The Bulldogs struggled to sustain drives following halftime with an array of penalties and two costly turnovers, but Ramic was able to add a field goal, pushing their lead to seven. However, Central was unable to hold the lead.
"It was a tough loss," said coach Shane Williamson following the loss. "Mistakes just killed us. We made their first two touchdowns easy by turning the ball over and not playing heads up on special teams. We can’t afford to give away points, and that’s what we did tonight."
Forsyth Central (0-3, 0-0) begins region play next week as they travel to Sprayberry.