ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
For 21 straight seasons, Southwestern College has defeated Tabor College.
But with the Moundbuilders’ numbers down and with a new coach at the helm, the Bluejays figured their best chance to break that streak would come on Saturday.
Unfortunately, Southwestern disagreed, and the Moundbuilders defeated the Bluejays one more time, 29-13.
Despite a lackluster start by both teams, the Bluejays strung together a 16-play, 74-yard drive in the first quarter to take the early lead. Dave Hernandez ran in from three yards to give Tabor a 7-0 advantage with 1:10 remaining after Keenan Morris added the PAT kick.
But in the second quarter, after a punt pinned the Bluejays back on their own 2-yard line, Tabor’s Nick Bourquist was sacked in the end zone for a Southwestern safety.
With the momentum quickly swinging to Southwestern, the Moundbuilders took the free kick and pieced together a five-play drive that ended with a touchdown. The Moundbuilders failed to convert the 2-point conversion, but led by one point, 8-7.
Midway through the second quarter, defense took center stage. Neither team could move the ball effectively until Keenan Morris connected on a 27-yard field goal to put Tabor back on top, 10-8, with no time showing on the clock.
In the third quarter, the Moundbuilders scored three times. The first score came with 11:11 left in the third quarter on a two-play, 34-yard drive.
The Bluejays helped the Moundbuilders with 6:11 left in the third quarter when Dave Hernandez was sacked in the end zone for the Bluejays’ second safety of the day. It was the second straight week they’ve given up two safeties in a game.
With the the two points, the Moundbuilders jumped to a 16-10 lead, but the Bluejays were still within striking distance. Then, with 2:21 left in the third quarter, the Moundbuilders converted a 40-yard field goal, giving them a nine-point lead.
The Bluejays crept back within a touchdown of the Moundbuilders at the beginning of the fourth quarter when Morris kicked his second field goal of the afternoon, this time from 26 yards out.
But Southwestern quieted Bluejay comeback hopes by scoring twice within two minutes. The Moundbuilders nailed a 32-yard field goal with 2:47 remaining, then Hernandez threw an interception with 1:35 left that was returned for an 84-yard touchdown.
Southwestern compiled 320 total yards of offense, including 286 yards rushing. The Bluejays racked up 290 yards. Tabor struggled to run the ball, finishing with 95 rushing yards while passing for 195.
Tabor turned the ball over six times. Hernandez and his receivers struggled to find chemistry throughout the afternoon. The Tabor quarterback threw 38 passes, completing 15. He threw four interceptions, including one for a score.
Freshman Layne Frick led all receivers with 68 yards on four receptions. Olando Harris led the Bluejays in rushing with 80 yards on 23 carries.
Coming-After the loss, the Bluejays are 5-4 overall and 4-4 in the KCAC. On Saturday, Tabor faces McPherson College at home. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.