CALHOUN, Ga. -- There's nothing quite like getting hit in the mouth to get one's attention.
Dalton did just that to Calhoun on Friday night at Phil Reeve Stadium, jumping out to a two-touchdown first-quarter lead, but Hal Lamb's second-ranked Class AA Yellow Jackets did the rest of the scoring for a 24-14 win.
"Everybody thought we were going to win by a big margin, but I knew this wouldn't be that kind of game because Dalton has too good of coaching and has a great running back," Lamb said. "There was no doubt in my mind we were going to win this football game, even down 14. They showed a lot of character in coming back to win it."
Dalton, sparked by senior running back Tre Beck's elusive running, scored on consecutive drives in the first quarter. Beck began the first quick drive with a 34-yard run, then two plays later scored from 20 yards out on a sprint around left end. Following a quick three-and-out by a fired-up Dalton defense, the Catamounts needed just four plays to score again, this time Beck getting in from 5 yards out.
It took Calhoun until its last drive to get points as Dalton's quick defense held the Jackets to three first downs on its previous drives. First-year quarterback Taylor Lamb, though, began finding his targets, hitting Josh Barnes for 28 yards to start the drive, then going to Darius Washington for 17. Washington, the senior running back, scored four plays later on a 5-yard run just before the half.
"Until that last drive of the half, I saw a lot of far away looks on the sideline," Hal Lamb said. "We weren't playing with intensity on offense, and Dalton did some things defensively that we weren't prepared for."
The second half was all Calhoun as the suddenly motivated Jackets defense rose to the occasion. Dalton netted only 21 yards in the half after getting 161 in the first as linebackers Alex Kirby, Hunter Knight and Gabe Freeman took control.
"We needed to be more aggressive and man up," the senior Knight said. "We were all tired and cramping, but we didn't give up. We just hit them hard and didn't really change much that we were doing. This will help us in that we overcame adversity. Most teams would have given up 14-0 in the first quarter, but we knew we were playing bad."
Taylor Lamb completed 14 of 19 second-half passes as Calhoun scored on three of its first four second-half possessions, beginning with Adam Griffith's 26-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-10. A 73-yard drive to start the final quarter gave Calhoun its first lead. Lamb-to-Clay Johnson for 32 yards was the key play, and Lamb hit Kirby for the touchdown on a 5-yard pass.
The running game, keyed by Washington (103 yards on 21 carries) spurred the next drive, which covered 55 yards in nine plays, with Washington scoring from a yard out with 1:49 to play for a 24-14 lead.
Beck had 87 of his 107 yards in the first half, while Johnson led Calhoun's bevy of receivers with 78 yards on seven catches.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...