DAWSON – One word comes to mind when watching the 2019 Dawson Bulldogs – methodical. The Bulldogs run the football extremely well, pass when they need to, and just pound on their opponent until the opponent wears down.
Just ask Dawson’s latest victim, the blue and white Bulldogs from Wortham. Dawson rushed for 223 yards on the night, completed only one pass on one attempt for 63 yards, and claimed the number two seed in District 11-2A DII, beating Wortham, 28-12, on Senior Night at Ed Mitchell Field in Dawson.
With the win, Dawson improves to 8-2 on the season while finishing 4-1 in district play. Wortham enters the playoffs as the number three seed, drops to 7-3 and 3-2.
Dawson only ran 38 plays compared to Wortham’s 55, but the Dawson defense picked off three Wortham passes to end lengthy drives, as Wortham could only find the end zone twice and was held to only 225 yards.
Both teams initial two drives summed up the entire two-hour game.
Wortham took the opening kickoff, held the ball for over eight minutes, ran 13 plays, kept the drive alive twice on Dawson offside penalties, before the Dawson defense stopped Wortham inside the 5-yard line on fourth down.
Dawson took over on its own 4-yard line, held the ball for six minutes and into the second quarter, ran 13 plays, and, thanks to a penalty, rushed for 101 yards on the drive, finally scoring on a 35-yard scamper by Jakoby Moore for a 6-0 lead in the second quarter.
Wortham, using a big kickoff return by Riley Baker, again moved deep into Dawson territory. This time the drive was stopped at the 5-yard line on an interception by Moore, who returned the football all the way into Wortham territory.
Dawson would push the lead to two scores when quarterback Brendan Horner did the honors himself, scoring on a two-yard keeper with only one-minute remaining in the first half.
Each team had two drives that each went deep inside the other’s territory. Dawson’s bend-but-don’t-break defense stopped Wortham, while the Dawson offense cashed in on the other end.
Wortham did use that last minute of the first half to get back into the game, using a big kickoff return by Chance Lantham, to score a touchdown on the last play of the first half. Wortham quarterback Brandon Coker scored from 2 yards out as time expired to cut the Dawson lead in half, 12-6.
Coker lead the Wortham offense with 94 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while completing seven passes for another 86 yards.
The first half only took 43 minutes of actual time.
With the momentum entering the second half, Wortham forced a three-and-out, the only one of the game for either team, making Dawson punt, which, again, was the only one of the game for either team.
With Wortham driving to at least tie the game, the Dawson defense came up with another interception on the 5-yard line, this time by Isaiah Johnson to end the threat.
Johnson’s return and a big 14-yard run by James Drake set up the biggest play of the night.
Dawson does not throw the ball very much, but when they do, it is usually for a big gain. This pass play was no different for the Bulldogs.
Horner found Da’Mariyea Hamilton deep, and laid it just over the outstretched hand of a Wortham defender, and 63 yards later, Hamilton put the Bulldogs up 18-6. Hamilton would add the two-point conversion to push the Dawson lead to 20-6.
With the one big play, Da’Mariyea Hamilton would lead all receivers in yardage with 63 yards and one touchdown.
Not to be outdone by his brother, Ja’Mariyea Hamilton would put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a 23-yard run around the left end, outracing what seemed to be the entire Wortham defense to the endzone. Drake would add the two-point conversion to make the score 28-6.
Ja’Mariyea Hamilton would lead all rushers on the night, finishing with 101 yards on just 10 carries and one touchdown.
Coker would close out the scoring for Wortham with a 4-yard run with just over four minutes remaining to make the final score 28-12.
With eight wins on the season, this marks the most wins in a season by Dawson since eight in 2009.
“Finishing with the first winning season since 2009 is a big deal,” said head coach Ronnie Striplin.
Dawson has not won nine games in a season since the 2005 state quarterfinal team that finished 9-4.
The 2019 edition looks to get that ninth win next week in the first round of the state 2A DII playoffs against the Evadale Rebels in Crockett next Friday night at 7:30.
Wortham will face 5-4 Lovelady next Thursday night in Center.
Evadale finished the regular season at 5-4 and in third place at 3-2 in District 12-2A DII after losing to Lovelady, 48-16, Friday night.
“They are a good football team that went three rounds deep last season before losing to Muenster,” assessed Striplin of their next opponent.
But that’s not going to phase Striplin and the Dawson Bulldogs.
“We aren’t going to do anything different,” said Striplin when asked about preparation for the playoffs.
But there is one thing you can count on next Friday night – Dawson is going to do Dawson things, like run the ball and be methodical in wearing down their opponent.