Written by AO Saturday, 20 October 2007 12:15Bethel College rushed for five touchdowns, three of which were scored by Anthony Melton in the first half and two of which came on the strength of quarterback Josh Rogers' legs. The Threshers totaled 219 rushing yards on 51 attempts Saturday, handily defeating Tabor 41-20.
The Bluejays got off to a rocky start, punting to Bethel on a 3-and-out to start the game. With the wind at their backs, Bethel went to the air and connected for a 24-yard completion from Brett Clow to Lance Francis down to the Tabor 10. Anthony Melton hammered his way into the end zone two plays later, giving the Threshers a quick 7-0 lead and temporarily silencing an energetic home crowd.
Tabor went 3-and-out on its second possession, and a long punt return by Brandon Kaufman started the Threshers out first-and-10 inside Bluejay territory again.
Clow hit Darron Morgan for a 38-yard pass on the first play of the series, and Josh Rogers trotted into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 5:26 to go in the first frame.
Tabor went 3-and-out for the third straight time on offense, but a favorable bounce on the punt gave the Bluejay defense a longer field to work with. The unit came up with the first stop of the game, forcing a punt with 1:55 to go in the quarter.
But the offense continued to struggle, as Thomas Coopriber picked off Jason Aubrey at the Bethel 30-yard line. The Threshers committed their first turnover of the game when Clow failed to spot Kyle Basinger, who intercepted a pass thrown almost directly to him on the fourth play of the possession. But, unluckily for Tabor, Basinger was hit hard during the return and fumbled the ball back to the Threshers, who then had first-and-10 at the Tabor 39.
The defense came up with its third straight stop when Mike McNatt hit Clow two yards short of the first down on forth-and-3.
But Aubrey had another pass intercepted by Brandon Kaufman two plays later, and Bethel started out at midfield. The Bluejay defense came up with another stop, and Aubrey broke through with a pair of 30-yard completions to Caleb Marsh on the next drive, the second of which gave the Bluejays their first points of the afternoon. Derik Martinez banged the extra point through, and Tabor trailed 14-7.
But the day's theme was iron defensive will undermined by offensive ineptitude, as Tabor again forced a 3-and-out, and again gave Bethel premium field position with a turnover. Lance Stubbs temporarily saved a touchdown, running down Scotty Yerges from behind after Yerges and the Threshers intercepted Aubrey for the third time.
Melton hammered home the winning touchdown from three yards out with 37 seconds left in the first half and Michael Montez drilled his third extra point for a 21-7 Bethel lead.
The third quarter began with Tabor's defense bending but not breaking, allowing another long pass from Clow to Francis, but forcing and recovering a fumble to kill the drive. Dustin Eagleburger jumped on the loose ball at the Tabor 37 with 10:53 left in the period.
But the offense misfired again, going 3-and-out to set up another of Martinez' 7 punts. Martinez bombed his longest of the day, a 61-yarder with the wind for a touchback from the Tabor 39.
Bethel drove 80 yards in 10 plays, chewing up 5:28 of clock. Rogers capped it off with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for the score, making it 28-7 with 2:16 left in the third. Tabor got the ball back, first-and-10 at the 33, ran three plays, lost 5 yards and committed their fourth turnover of the game.
It was more of the same in the first half of the fourth quarter, with Tabor punting and Melton ripping a 46-yard run down the Bethel sideline to make it 35-7 with 13:01 left in the game.
Bethel added field goals of 21 and 28 yards, and Tabor added two touchdowns. Anthony Davis threaded a pass through to Caleb Marsh with 1:16 to go, and, after an onside kick recovered by Terry Bates, ran 8 yards for the game's final score.
Tabor finished with 218 yards of total offense compared to 392 for Bethel. The Threshers ran for 219 yards, and Tabor was held to -1 rushing yard on 26 tries. Tabor threw for 218 yards on 32 attempts, and Marsh caught 6 passes for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns. But Tabor also threw four interceptions. Bethel went 10-for-18 passing for 173 yards.