On first down, Davis went through his progressions and, finding all of his receivers blanketed by the Bulldog secondary, threw the ball away to avoid being sacked.
On second down, Davis scrambled out of the pocket and tip-toed the sideline for an 8-yard gain before being pushed out at the McPherson 7 with 2 seconds to go.
After a timeout, Davis rolled to his right, checked his receivers, and sprinted for the goal line. He was stopped at the 1-yard line by multiple Bulldogs.
“The 2-minute drill is something we work on every day, and we ran it pretty well,” coach Mike Gottsch said. “It was one of those situations where they couldn’t stop us but we ran out of time, where you just wish you had one more play.”
Tabor fell behind 7-0 on the opening drive, a six-play 77-yard series that grew out of a 51-yard pass from Jacob Simon to Matt White on the fourth play of the game.
White was dropped at the 12 by Jon Ramos, but two short runs by Aazaad Artis gave McPherson the early lead.
A 40-yard kickoff return by DeJaun Jones set up a scoring chance for Tabor, and the Bluejay offense pounded their way down to the McPherson 29. But Tabor could not convert a fourth down to sustain the drive.
“McPherson deserves a lot of credit—they kept our offense off the field most of the first half, and that kept us from getting into rhythm when we were out there,” Gottsch said.
The Bluejay defense forced the first punt as part of a run of three straight stops. The third came when T.J. Jackson short-circuited a pass attempt, picking off Simon’s throw and returning the ball all the way to the McPherson 25.
The Bluejays got on the scoreboard six plays later when Davis drilled a pass to Phil Unruh in the end zone with 11:31 left in the first half.
But seizing and holding momentum has been difficult for the Bluejays all season, and a missed extra point took most of the luster off of an otherwise positive turn of events.
Trailing 7-6, the Bluejay defense preserved a one-point margin through intermission.
“The defense played great,” Gottsch said. “They bent but didn’t break, and that kept us in the game.”
Jones started the first half with a 24-yard kickoff return. On six consecutive plays, Tabor gained yards, including a 9-yard run by Davis framed by gains of 8 and 11 by Demetrius Cox.
But on the seventh play, a high snap spoiled a draw designed for Cox, and the drive stalled at the Tabor 22.
Three plays later, Derik Martinez’s 40-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked by a McPherson defender.
The Bulldogs then strung together three straight double-digit gains to move from their own 23 across midfield.
A 12-yard run by Artis on the 10th play of the possession put McPherson first-and-10 at the Tabor 15. But two solid tackles by Sean Retting brought up third down, and John Mark Phelps dropped Artis in the backfield to force a field-goal try.
Travis Eason came on to kick having already missed a 46-yarder. But Eason drilled the 28-yard attempt for a 10-6 McPherson lead with 2:46 left in the third quarter.
The teams traded punts, and Tabor followed with a fumble near midfield. A three-and-out gave the Bluejays the ball back at their 34.
McPherson committed a personal foul and Davis connected with Lance Stubbs for 17 yards as Tabor advanced the ball to the McPherson 32. But a lost fumble killed the drive and led to another Eason field goal, making it 13-6 with 3:08 remaining.
Tabor netted 159 rushing yards as a team, 96 of which were credited to Davis. Davis also threw for 78 yards on six completions.
Turnover margin has been a recurring theme for the Bluejays. McPherson forced two fumbles and two interceptions compared to the one fumble and one interception forced by the Tabor defense.
“It’s tough right now, but we’re growing in a lot of intangible ways,” Gottsch said. “It’s humbling, but it is bringing us closer together as a team.”
Coming—Tabor (1-8) wraps up the regular season at Salina on Saturday. The contest against Kansas Wesleyan (4-5) is slated for 1:30 p.m.