Written by AO Saturday, 25 October 2008 14:14
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.
The 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.
The 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).