Dawson sneaks past Deer Park 17-14

PEARLAND — It may not have been pretty, but a win is a win any way you look at it.

Dawson and Deer Park were both happy to be playing in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Both teams had to shake off the rust in their season opener after Harvey shut down all of the season openers in the Houston area at the end of August.

While both teams got in a few workouts to prepare for their game against one another, they also spent time in their communities helping those who were hit hard by the high waters in people's homes.

"When you see the devastation done to these homes and these people, you almost feel guilty that you didn't get flooded," Dawson head coach Eric Wells said. "Last Thursday was our first day of an organized team effort, and we took buses of football players all over Pearland.

"We moved furniture, pulled up baseboards, cleaned up, took out trash, moved freezers…whatever was needed. It's a small dent in a big problem, but it makes a difference in those people's lives. Our kids got a good lesson on how bad it can be, and they got humbled really quick."

There was a lot of excitement at The Rig when both teams took the field as it was confirmation that the football season was finally getting underway.

Both teams traded punts after a few possessions each in the opening period until Dawson finally drove to the Deer Park 10-yard line and settled for a 27-yard field goal by Claire Jeffries with 2:56 left in the opening period for a 3-0 lead.

The battle continued throughout the first half until the Eagles scored on an eight-play, 67-yard drive with Arizona-bound running back Darrius Smith scoring on a 6-yard run to make the score 10-0 following the PAT by Jeffries with 5:24 left before intermission.

Dawson limited the Deer to only 54 total yards in the first half as the Eagles were the better team on both sides of the ball.

"We didn't have a lot in the playbook, and our defense played really well tonight," Dawson head coach Eric Wells said. "We had a couple of broken plays here and there, but you have to expect that with the limited amount of practices we've had.

"The effort was great, we learned a lot tonight and we won. It was a good day for us."

Deer Park opened up the third quarter with a touchdown to close the gap to 10-7 when WR Brandon McKissack caught a 20-yard pass from quarterback Broc Weidner at the 9:48 mark.

The drive took only seven plays and covered 86-yards for the Deer that included a 20-yard pass completion and a 39-yard run by running back Traion Diggles.

The third quarter remained scoreless, but the Eagles finally scored in the fourth frame to put a little distance between them and the Deer.

Facing fourth-and-six at the Deer 21, Wells opted to go for the first down as the field goal attempt would be a little out of the range of Jeffries.

Junior quarterback Patrick Kramer rolled out and found Khalil Jones in the back of the Deer Park end zone for the score giving the Eagles a 17-7 advantage with 5:21 left in the non-district contest.

Wells said the fourth-and-six touchdown pass wasn't by design.

"You'd like to say you drew it up that way," the Eagles head coach said. "The kids just made big plays. No doubt it was the game-winner."

Deer Park wasn't going to give up as they answered with their second score of the game as Weidner hooked up McKissack again for a 26-scoring strike with 2:44 left in the game to cut the margin to 17-14.

Dawson recovered the ensuing onside kick and was able to hold on for a season-opening victory.

The Eagles were strong on offense as they posted 16 first downs for 360 total yards while the Deer only got eight first downs and 180 total yards.

Dawson played two quarterbacks as Myles Kitt-Denton was 4-of-7 passing for 40 yards and one interception while rushing for 88 yards on 11 carries.

Kramer was 3-for-5 passing for 39 yards and one score.

Smith led all rushers as the workhorse of the offense with 32 carries and 179 yards and one TD.

Mason Pierce was the top receiver for Dawson with five grabs for 51 yards..

Dawson will play at home at The Rig on Friday, September 15 against the Summer Creek Bulldogs at 7:00 p.m.