Hastings dominates Dawson for 23-6A title 55-35

PEARLAND — The Dawson Eagles had an opportunity to win the District 23-6A championship outright with a win over the Alief Hastings Bears, but the Eagles came out flat and the Bears took advantage in every facet of the game to blow out Dawson to claim the 23-6A title.

Dawson was playing a much-improved team from a year ago as Hastings didn't even make the playoffs in 2016 finishing 2-8 overall and 2-4 in district.

The Bears entered the season as a pre-season pick to finish fifth and a dark horse to make the post-season.

With nine offensive and eight defensive starters returning for the 2017 football campaign, league teams took them for granted and that was a big mistake as Hastings finished 6-2 overall and 5-1 in district with their only loss coming at the hands of the Pearland Oilers.

"It's very exciting," Hastings coach David Martel said. "It's exciting for the coaches, for Hastings High School, exciting for the players. We put in the boot camp. We started talking about changing the culture and doing things right, playing hard and being tough. They bought in. The coaches kept pushing and pushing. A kid says 'why are you forcing.' We force because of this, because we just won a district championship."

Hastings showed they were hungry and totally committed to winning the district title as they jumped on the Eagles in the first half to build a 31-0 lead.

The Bears scored on their first possession when quarterback Javon Williams hit a wide-open Austin Ogunmakin on a 25-yard scoring pass for a 7-0 lead.

They made it 10-0 at the 4:09 first quarter mark on a 24-yard field goal by Alexis Rodriquez.

With 2:23 left in the opening period, the Bears found pay dirt again when Jeremy Caston caught an 18-yard scoring strike from Williams for another touchdown and a 17-0 advantage.

The score was set up by a botched attempt by the Dawson punter to run on fourth down, but came up short giving the Bears a short offensive field.

Hastings' defense got in on the scoring action when Dawson finally penetrated deep in Bear territory, but Dawson junior quarterback Patrick Dempsey threw an errant pass that was picked off at the Hasting 15-yard line by Arian Stewart who weaved his way through the Eagles' offensive players for an 85-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 24-0.

After Dawson went three and out, Hastings got the ball at the Dawson 35 and scored on the first play around end for the 31-0 lead with 9:35 still left in the second quarter.

Dawson finally got on the scoreboard when senior running back Darrius Smith got the call on eight straight carries capped off with a 4-yard run to complete a 63-yard drive to cut the lead to 31-7 following the PAT by Claire Jeffress with 7:25 remaining in the first half.

Hastings' Rodriguez put the finishing touches on the first half with a 25-yard field goal giving the Bears a comfortable 34-7 lead at intermission.

The second half didn't start any better for Dawson as Hastings got the second half kickoff and it took only 6 seconds for the Bears to score as Ogunmakin raced 41-yards on the first play to make the score 41-7.

The Eagles weren't going to throw in the towel as they scored two consecutive possessions as Caleb Eaton scored on a 32-yard run to make the score 41-14.

After getting the onside kick, Dawson scored again on a 33-yard pass from Kramer to Khalil Jones to cut the lead to 41-21 with 10:39 left in the third.

But the Bears put the game out of reach with two more scores when Ogunmakin hauled in a 28-yard scoring pass from Williams for a 48-21 lead and then Dawson fumbled on their next possession that resulted in a 55-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 55-21 with 9:06 left in the fourth quarter.

Dawson added two fourth quarter scores on a Kramer to Jones scoring pass covering 24-yards and a 1-yard plunge by Eaton to put the 55-35 final score on the board.

One bright spot in the game was Jones who had seven catches for two touchdowns and over 200 yards receiving.

Dawson (6-3) will face the Friendswood Mustangs (7-3) in the opening round of the Class 6A Region III Div. II playoffs at The Rig on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:00 p.m.