The third time wasn’t the charm for the Tabor College football team in their ongoing series with Morningside College of Iowa.
In 2015 and 2016, Morningside ended Tabor’s season in the NAIA playoffs by scores of 51-6 and 65-17, respectively. This time the Mustangs, ranked No. 4 in the NAIA, rolled over the 10th-ranked Bluejays, 65-14, at Joel Wiens Stadium in their first game of the season.
The Bluejays had their moments in the first half, both hopeful and heartbreaking.
When Tabor held the Mustangs to a field goal on the visitors’ first possession, the partisan home crowd took heart.
But then Morningside did what it does best: score touchdowns. The Mustangs found the end zone on four consecutive possessions before Tabor broke the shutout on a deep 62-yard pass from quarterback Curry Parham to Zach Johnson with 5:15 left in the first half. Austin Smith’s extra point brought the score to 31-7.
Prior to that score, the Bluejays suffered a couple of momentum turnarounds. The first was set up by a booming punt by Bryson Casimir that Tabor downed on the opponents’ 1-yard line.
On Morningside’s first play from scrimmage, it appeared the Bluejay defense stuffed a running play in the end zone for a safety, but officials ruled the running back had returned to the line of scrimmage.
The second jolt occurred late in the first quarter when Parham fired a strike to his receiver, but a Mustang defender literally snatched the ball from the receiver’s grasp for an interception and first down for Morningside on the 20-yard line.
Late in the second quarter, with Tabor trailing 38-7, it appeared Tabor CJ Tate made a strong catch of another deep pass from Parham. The officials discussed the call and ruled Tate had not held possession long enough. Tabor’s possession ended with a punt.
Morningside took advantage once again and scored its seventh touchdown of the first half for a 44-7 lead at intermission.
The Mustangs slowed their scoring run to three touchdowns in the second half, and led by as much as 65-7. But the Bluejays came back to score for a second time when Drevion Cooper ran in from 11 yards out with 7:20 left. Smith ended the scoring with a successful extra point.
This was the second game of the season for Morningside, while Tabor was making it debut. The Mustangs rolled up 838 yards of total offense while Tabor managed a respectable 356.
The Bluejays will get another chance to win when they host Bethel College in Tabor’s KCAC opener.