Tigers use Thomas’ big night in opening win over Raiders [VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS]

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The Tigers broke a 13-13 tie just two minutes into the third quarter, scoring 14 unanswered points to claim a 27-13 win Friday night in Dawsonville. Dawson County (1-0; Region 7-AAA) and Habersham Central (0-1; Region 7-AAAAAA) both used big-yardage plays for most of the scores.

It was Shawn Thomas who showed out for the home team. The senior took the game’s opening kickoff back all the way for a 95-yard touchdown. There’s literally no way the season could start any better, as he also added north of 130 rushing yards.

The Raiders quickly lost a fumble moments later, which led to a 52-yard field goal by Caleb Bonesteel, an All-State kicker. In an early 10-0 hole, the Raiders called on Ryte Woodruff to pull them out. He did, finding Grayson Taylor for a 72-yard touchdown with 8:26 left in the first. The answer came just a minute and a half after Bonesteel’s bomb.

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After the Habersham defense forced a punt, Woodruff immediately ran what appeared to be the same play – with the same result. This time, it was Joshua Pickett who went 42 yards to the end zone, giving Habersham a 13-10 lead (the Raiders missed the extra point).

The lead held until the first play of the second quarter, when Bonesteel connected from 37 yards out to tie the game. That score held despite numerous opportunities for both teams. The Raiders lost two fumbles and threw an interception in the end zone, while Dawson threw a pick and were constantly pushed back by penalties.

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After stopping the Raiders’ initial drive to open the second half, the Tigers utilized Thomas’ abilities on a run play that went 69 yards to the house. With 10:02 left in the third, Dawson County had its lead back.

The Tigers added on with a late score in the third, a 6-yard run by quarterback Zach Holtzclaw. That gave Dawson a 27-13 lead which held as the final score.

Dawson County has now won the only two matchups in history with Habersham Central.

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