Written by AO Saturday, 01 November 2008 14:55
Behind four touchdown runs by Derek Washington and nearly flawless defense, the Tabor College football team defeated the Southwestern Moundbuilders in Winfield Saturday. Southwestern made it interesting on special teams, but with
seven seconds left, veteran kicker Marcus Manny hammered home the winning field goal in Tabor's 32-29 win.
Behind a pair of explosive runs by Washington—a 22-yarder and a 62-yarder—Tabor took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Southwestern mounted its most successful offensive possession of the day late in the frame, with a pair of long completions by Jesse Lyons moving the Builders to the Tabor 5-yard line to begin the second period. The Bluejays refused to allow a score, and took over on downs two yards outside their own end zone. Ironically, the defensive stand set up Southwestern's first score: when Tabor quarterback Marc Amos threw incomplete to avoid a sack in his endzone, he was flagged for intentional grounding; by rule, the Tabor penalty resulted in a safety that made it 14-2 with 13:19 to play in the second quarter.
None of Southwestern's scores came against the Bluejay defense: the Builders scored three special teams touchdowns in the second half, and added a pair of Austin Ledy field goals, the second of which tied the game with 4:10 remaining.
Tabor carried its 14-2 lead into halftime, but the Moundbuilders stole the momentum early in the third quarter. After forcing a 3-and-out, Southwestern's Jess Maddox returned a punt 94 yards to pull his team within 14-9. Southwestern forced the Bluejays to punt from their own 42 on the next series, and capitalized when Chris Cole returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. The point-after kick made it 16-14, Southwestern, and the first of Ledy's field goals put Tabor in a 19-14 hole with 2:11 left in the third quarter.
But the Bluejays counterpunched their way through the adversity. Facing a third-and-13 on the ensuing possession, Amos hit Adrian Clay with a 22-yard completion, and Seth Ramsey followed up two tough runs—one for 18 yards, one for 8—to close the book on the third. Then, echoing last week's game, the offensive line opened up a seam for Washington for a 21-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Bluejay defense took the ball back in short order, when Aaron Munsch sacked Lyons on third-and-8 to force a punt on the fifth play of the series.
The Tabor offense then went back to Ramsey for an 8-yard gain. On second-and-2 Amos stiff-armed his way through a tackle to move the ball into Southwestern territory, and drew a personal foul facemask in the process—giving the Bluejays first-and-10 at the Builders' 30. Washington finished it off with flair on the next play. After running to his right and finding nought but purple jerseys in front of him, Washington reversed field at the near hashmarks, picked up a handful of blocks, and scampered into the end zone with a score that made it 29-19 with 10:23 to go in the game.
But Southwestern wasn't finished, either, as Maddox returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown that made it 29-26 only 12 seconds later.
The Builders took advantage of a fumble—Tabor had three turnovers on the day—to tie it, 29-29, on a field goal with 4:10 left. The Bluejays chances appeared to take another hit when Amos' pass was intercepted at midfield on Tabor's next possession.
But the defense again rose to the challenge, as Terence George and Joe Wuest sacked Lyons on the first play of what became a 3-and-out. Tabor's offense retook the field with 1:36 left, and Amos went 5-for-5 leading the team from its own 26 to the Southwestern 11.
Then, after Southwestern tried to "ice" him with a timeout, Manny nailed a 28-yard field goal for a 32-29 Tabor lead with seven seconds remaining—an eternity, given the Moundbuilders' high-octane special teams.
But instead of aiming away from Maddox, the Bluejays kicked directly at him, and the coverage unit cut him down at the Southwestern 33 to secure the first conference win of coach Mike Gottsch's collegiate career.
That the game was so close on the scoreboard is remarkable considering how completely Tabor pasted Southwestern in both total offense and rushing offense: the Bluejays rolled up 393 yards of total offense (277 rushing) and the Bluejays limited Southwestern to 286 yards (81 rushing).
Southwestern's offensive line had no answer for Teal Stutzman, who recorded 17 tackles. Tabor sacked Lyons three times for 23 yards, and Nick Brown and Brendon Smith each intercepted him once.
Coming—Tabor (1-6 KCAC) has two games left: McPherson (2-5) on Saturday and Kansas Wesleyan (3-4) Nov. 15. A win over McPherson would certainly boost the Bluejays out of ninth place in the conference and could put Tabor in a 3-way tie for seventh.