The Dale defender, signed by West Brom last summer and immediately loaned back to Keith Hill's team, signed off in style to earn his hometown club a point when he bundled home Joe Widdowson's cross-cum-shot.
Rochdale raced out of the blocks with a goal after just 14 seconds when Joe Lewis collected a Gabriel Zakuani backpass and miscued his clearance straight to Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, who steadied himself before side-footing into the top corner of the net.
It was almost 2-0 when Matt Done cut infield, drifted past Zakuani and beat Lewis with a low drive but his shot thumped the foot of the post.
The visitors went close with Lee Tomlin testing Owain Fon Williams with a 15-yard effort and later sending a diving header wide after meeting James Wesolowski's cross.
Darren Ferguson's side levelled in first-half stoppage time when Grant McCann's corner was headed home by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and took the lead early in the second half when Tomlin side-footed home George Boyd's pull back. But Dawson's close range finish earned the hosts a deserved share of the points.