With a 7-point deficit to overcome and 1:22 to mount a last-ditch
drive, quarterback Anthony Davis tossed a 22-yard strike to Caleb Marsh
and followed up with three quick carries for 27 yards, setting up a
first-and-10 at the McPherson 15 with 22 seconds to go.
On first down, Davis went through his progressions and, finding all of
his receivers blanketed by the Bulldog secondary, wisely threw the ball
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 out to his right, checked his receivers, and sprinted for the goal line. He was stopped at the 1-yard line by multiple Bulldogs.
Tabor fell behind 7-0 on the opening drive, a 6-play 77-yard series that grew out of a 51-yard pass-play 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 could not convert a fourth down to sustain the drive.
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 1-point margin through intermission.
Tabor received the ball to start the first half, and Jones broke off another strong return, a 24-yarder, to give Tabor solid field position.
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 of the drive, a high snap spoiled a draw designed for Cox, and the drive stalled at the Tabor 22.
Three plays later, Derik Martinez attempted a 40-yard field goal that was partially blocked by a McPherson defender.
The Bulldogs then countered with an efficient drive, stringing 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 kick try.
Travis Eason came on to kick having already missed a 46-yarder wide left. But Eason drilled a 28-yard try for a 10-6 McPherson lead with 2:46 left in the third quarter.
The teams traded punts, and Tabor followed with a fumble lost–one of two on the night in addition to two interceptions–near midfield. A 3-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 just six completions.
Turnover margin has been a recurring theme for the Bluejays, and McPherson forced two fumbles and two interceptions compared to the one fumble and one interception forced by teh Tabor defense.