ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The 6th ranked Tabor College Bluejays put the finishing touches on an undefeated regular season with a 43-8 win over the University of Saint Mary Spires Saturday afternoon on a gusty Reimer Field.
The Bluejays set a new school record for rushing in the process, rolling up 371 yards on the ground led by Roger Butler’s 226 yards on 28 carries resulting in four touchdowns and Ben Brown’s two-touchdown, 125 yards on nine carries performance.
Three first quarter Tabor College turnovers saw the game move into the second quarter in a scoreless tie as the Spires came to Hillsboro fresh off back-to-back shutout wins over Sterling and McPherson.
Roger Butler and Co. changed all that on the first possession of the second quarter as Tabor turned around to face the teeth of the southerly wind.
Wind or not, Butler carried four plays covering 58 yards and rammed into the end zone from a yard out. Mike Skvor added the extra point kick and Tabor led 7-0.
After teams traded possessions, safety Joe Fenske intercepted a Spire pass deep in Saint Mary territory and the Bluejays were back in business on the 14 yard line.
Two plays later Butler crashed into the end zone from 10 yards out and Tabor went on top 14-0.
It only got worse for Saint Mary on the ensuing kickoff when the ball got caught in the gale force winds and Robert Haude was there to recover for Tabor on the Saint Mary 20 yard line.
It took just three plays before Butler scored again, this time from seven yards out.
Saint Mary blocked the extra point attempt but Jake Barber grabbed the ball and carried half the Spire defense into the end zone for two more Tabor points to make the score 22-0 with 4:52 to play in the half.
Tabor managed to piece together a six play, 73 yard drive before the end of the half highlighted by a Brown run of 54 yards.
Facing third and one from the one, Brown finalized the drive with a burst up the middle and Tabor strutted into the halftime locker room on top 29-0 as Saint Mary managed just 35 first half offensive yards.
Tabor’s first possession of the third quarter resulted in a five play, 42 yard drive capped by a Butler touchdown run of 14 yards, leaving Butler just one shy of the NAIA single season rushing touchdown record as Tabor grabbed a 36-0 lead.
Tabor added another score later in the third period when Clayton Sanders recovered a Spire fumble just 11 yards from the goal line.
Brown gobbled up those 11 yards on one run as Tabor jumped on top 43-0 as the third quarter ended.
Saint Mary averted the shutout against Tabor’s reserve defensive unit, driving 91 yards in just four plays to score with 4:44 to play in the game, and with the two-point conversion, cut the lead to 43-8.
Tabor rolled up 371 yards on 51 carries while Saint Mary carried the ball 53 times for 218 yards with 91 of those coming on their scoring drive.
Jake Schenk led the Tabor defense with nine tackles.
With the victory, Tabor stayed perfect in the KCAC (9-0) and improved to 10-0 overall.
The Bluejays now await their opponent in the opening round of the NAIA football playoffs.
Game opponent, time and location will be revealed by the NAIA sometime Sunday afternoon.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL