The Tabor College football team was defeated 54-7 Saturday (Oct. 25)
at Bethel. The Bluejays only score came on an 89-yard run by Derek
Washington on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Bluejays as a
team finished with 89 rushing yards on 38 carries, and totaled just 44
passing yards as injuries continued to pile up at the quarterback
position. Tabor was without Marc Amos, who accounted for three
touchdowns a week ago, and lost Bryan Knighton late in the first half.
The Threshers led 20-0 at the start of the second quarter, 41-0 at halftime, 48-0 through three quarters. Unfortunately for the Bluejays, there was no Paul Harvey-style plot
twist waiting in the wings. For Tabor, the rest of the story contained only six first downs and Washington's blazing touchdown run.
Bluejay defense tasted success for two or three plays in a row at
times, but forced only four punts on the day. Bethel's special teams
units returned a punt for a touchdown, forced and recovered two fumbles
and posted 210 return yards—170 on 7 punt returns, and 40 more on two
kickoff returns. The Bluejays forced two turnovers, but lost six
possessions on giveaways, three on fumbles. One of Tabor's three
interceptions was returned for a touchdown.
As difficult as
Bethel (6-1 overall, 5-1 KCAC) made things for the Bluejays, Tabor
actually started the game well on offense, racking up three first downs on its initial
series and advancing from the Tabor 20 to the midfield line on 10 plays.
But the 11th play of the game—a punt on fourth-and-7—was disasterous for the Bluejays, as Mervin Brookins
collected a bouncing ball at his own 11 and outran the
Tabor punt coverage unit down the Bethel sideline for an 89-yard
touchdown return. Tabor stuffed the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt,
but Bethel led 6-0.
Tabor went 3-and-out on the next series, and
the Bethel offense needed only three plays to score, as Beau Cox
strutted into the end zone after taking a screen pass 24 yards to
paydirt with 6:13 left in the frame. Bethel forced a 3-and-out on the
next series, but fumbled the ball back to Tabor. Bluejays linebacker
Brendon Smith made the recovery, but the offense was again unable to
move the ball.
The Tabor defense then stopped Bethel on three
straight plays, with Adam Dirks knocking down a pass attempt on
third-and-5 at the Tabor 49. But Bethel faked the punt on fourth down
and scored on a 37-yard pass two plays later, with 12 seconds left in
the first quarter.
It was more of the same during the middle
quarters. But when the fourth period began—with Tabor facing third-and-12 at its
own 11—the Bluejays finally put together a perfectly executed
play. Beginning with an overwhelming and precise effort by the
offensive line, Tabor smashed a gaping hole for Washington on Bethel's
right flank, and effective downfield blocking allowed Washington to outrun all pursuers. Only one
Thresher to laid a hand on him, and Washington barely broke stride
powering out of his grip at the Bethel 40.
The Tabor defense raised
its game after that, forcing a punt and two field goals the rest of the
way. But the offense's bright spot was meteoric, fading quickly when
the Bluejays lost a fumble on their own 18 on the next series.
defense forced Goessel High School alumnus Garrett Hiebert into an
interception on the next series, but Hiebert had already done his
damage for the day: he led Bethel with 61 yards rushing on 14 carries,
and added 4-for-7 passing for 17 yards and a touchdown.
Up Next, Tabor (0-7) visits Southwestern (0-7).