WACO -- Can anyone remember Dawson's opening night loss to Axtell in Waco a year ago?
Didn't think so ...
That lopsided loss has been long forgotten by a Dawson team that wants to erase everything about a tough stretch of Friday nights and rewrite the record books with a new era of Bulldog football that started the day coach Ronnie Striplin arrived.
That's what the Bulldogs did Thursday night in their opening night win over Axtell at Waco ISD Stadium, where Striplin's new Dogs ran away from the past and Axtell all night long in a 36-14 romp that was never that close.
Axtell had about as much chance of catching the Dawson kids as the Coyote had of catching the Road Runner ...
Beep Beep! That was Dawson flying right by you.
Right by anyone who cared and right into the end zone. The Bulldogs couldn't wait to get there and raced by Axtell with one big play after another for the kind of victory that could set the tone for the season.
Striplin flipped the program upside down in his first two years at Dawson, where he made every Bulldog fan forget about a four-year losing streak and made every kid in the program believe the Dawson Dogs were winners.
In his second season, Striplin saw his team race into the postseason last year for the first time since 2010, clinching the playoff berth early -- literally and figuratively. Striplin said later he thought the breakthrough year would come in 2019, but his kids made it happen a year early.
Now 2019 and the Bulldogs have arrived, and they're better than ever after just one night.
"Last year gave us confidence," said senior quarterback Brendan Horner.
Yup, it takes confidence to face a team like Axtell that beat you 50-12 a year earlier and then beat the same program like a Ginger Baker solo.
You like lopsided numbers? Try these: 75, 69, 40. Those were Dawson't first three scoring plays.
1) A 75-yard runaway touchdown sprint by Jakoby Moore, who never blinked and never looked back.
2) A 69-yard scamper by Ja'Mariyea Hamilton who zipped by Axtell before you could say "Which Hamilton was that?" (Twin brother Da'Mariyea had a big night, too.)
3) And a 40-yard reception by the same Hamilton twin on a ball that he caught in traffic when Horner sliced his pass through Axtell's secondary to Ja'Meriyea, who came back to the ball to complete the two-play drive.
That's right, two plays. Dawson seemed to be in a hurry all night.
Hamilton's 69-yard run came with 2:01 left in the half, and after Dawson buried Axtell at its own 8-yard line when the Longhorns fumbled the kickoff, the Dawson D shut down three passes in a row that all fell incomplete, stopping the clock.
The Bulldogs got the ball back and took two plays to score on Horner's pass to Hamilton, who caught it with 1:09 left on the clock.
Math fans will quickly point out that Ja'Mariyea scored two TDs in a span of 53 seconds with a big assist to the Dawson defense. Those two TDs gave Dawson a 22-0 lead at halftime after Horner ran in for the two-point conversion. Da'Mariyea Hamilton also had a two-point run, following Moore's 75-yard TD.
Axtell went to halftime without a point and with only 42 yards of offense -- all on ground from 17 carries (2.4 yards per carry) and a 0-for-13 first half of passing.
Dawson's Big 3 put up some impressive numbers as Moore finished the night with 123 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns, and Ja'Mariyea Hamilton left Waco after running for 101 yards on six carries and a TD and catching a 40-yard TD pass as well.
Horner ran for 81 yards on nine carries, including a 16-yard TD, and completed two passes for 54 yards and a TD.
The Longhorns scored twice in the second half and moved the ball, but the game was over after Moore zigged and zagged his way with a pretty 26-yard TD run that will be fun to watch on home movies in the Moore household for years to come, and a tough 16-yard TD run by Horner, who is Houdini in a pile of tacklers, finding a way to daylight when there seems to be none.
Horner's TD made it a 36-6 game with 11:12 left, which gave the Dawson fans and the Dawson band (yes, it's very talented band as well) plenty of time to enjoy this one.
Dawson's fans never stopped supporting the program even during the long losing streak and are some of the best in Texas. This is the team they've been waiting for, and they show it.
The game kicked off Waco's Derrick Johnson Hall of Fame Classic, a three-day event that ended with awards on the field as Moore was named the Offensive Player of the Game, and Ja'Mariyea Hamilton earned the Defensive Player of the Game. With all the fast and furious offense going on, Hamilton found time to intercept a pass and lead a ferocious defense.
It was that kind of night for Dawson's Bulldogs, who are off to their fastest start in years ...