In battle of ranked teams, Bluejays roll past Missouri Valley, 27-17

The 8th-ranked Tabor College football team won a big matchup at 7th-ranked Missouri Valley College Saturday night, 27-17.

Powered by a strong rushing attack?Tabor had 353 yards of total offense, 323 yards on the ground?the Bluejays moved the ball with ease, especially in the first half of the contest.

Tabor wasted little time putting points on the board, scoring its first touchdown on the game?s opening drive when Cody Coleman found the end zone for a 4-yard score at the 9:27 mark. Jared Slavens? extra-point kick gave Tabor an early, 7-0 lead.

The Vikings answered by piecing together a scoring drive on their first possession. A 15-yard touchdown pass and ensuing extra-point kick tied the game at 7-7 less than two minutes later. The score held through the end of the first period.

It was a game laden with fumbles?between the two teams, there were eight, including six lost. The first happened when, with Tabor threatening to score, Simon McKee fumbled the ball away in the red zone. The Vikings returned the favor; however, fumbling the ball back to Tabor just three plays later.

That set up a short field for the Bluejays at the Viking 18-yard line. Six plays into the drive, Tabor was in the end zone when Marshall McShan leaped over the pile for a 1-yard score. Slavens? kick made it 14-7 with 8:45 left in the half.

The Bluejays forced a Viking punt, but fumbled on the return. However, Wayde Snell intercepted Viking quarterback Bruce Reyes? second-down pass, setting up another Bluejay scoring drive. McKee left the game partway through the drive with an apparent injury and was replaced by Jessie Robbins under center. Owen Cole capped the 11-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. After Slavens? kick, Tabor led 21-7 with less than a minute left in the half.

Thanks to a Viking fumble, Tabor was able to squeeze in one final score before the break when Slavens nailed a 36-yard field goal, giving the Bluejays a 24-7 halftime lead.

Another Tabor fumble led to the Vikings? first score of the second half. Having kept the drive alive by completing a 26-yard pass on fourth down, the Vikings added a 32-yard field goal, bringing the score to 24-10 with 3:56 left in the third quarter.

After the teams traded punts, Tabor scored its only points of the second half on a 25-yard Slavens field goal, for a 27-10 Bluejay advantage.

Colin Hodges cut the ensuing Viking drive short by intercepting Reyes? pass four plays in, but a McShan fumble three plays later set up a Missouri Valley score. On first down, the Vikings completed a 20-yard pass to the end zone. The extra-point kick narrowed the gap to 27-17 with 7:35 left in the game.

The Vikings? next two drives ended in interceptions courtesy of Matt McElroy and Donnell Davis, which allowed Tabor to run out the clock.

Owen Cole led Tabor?s rushing effort, putting up 88 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Tabor limited Missouri Valley to 9 rushing yards. Through the air, Simon McKee was 4-for-6 for 30 yards. The Vikings had 107 passing yards.

On defense, Davis, Derrick Lawrence and Ben Gardner each had five solo tackles. McElroy contributed four solo tackles, including two for loss. Lawrence and Gardner each had a quarterback sack.

Coming?With the win, Tabor improves to 2-0 on the season. Tabor will kick off conference play Saturday at the University of Saint Mary. Game time is 1:30 p.m.

For scores and updates during football games, follow Janae on Twitter @janaerem13

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