On Saturday night a pair of costly turnovers marred a strong effort put forward in Tabor’s opening contest of the season. Ottawa came to Reimer Field with a losing streak against the Bluejays that covered the past three seasons, but left with a 35-26 victory.
Tabor opened the scoring with a touchdown 4:17 into the game on a quarterback keeper by DeJaun Jones. Ottawa blocked the extra point attempt, but the Tabor defense forced a punt on Ottawa’s first possession.
The punt was downed deep in Bluejay territory, and a lost fumble gave Ottawa its first red-zone scoring chance of the night with 7:15 to play in the first quarter.
Ottawa scored to make it 6-6 at 5:48, then converted the extra point kick to take the lead.
At 4:01, special teams disaster struck again as Ottawa crashed through to block Tabor’s first punt of the night. The Braves defense recovered the live ball on one bounce and scurried into the end zone for a 14-6 advantage.
Andy Bartell brought the home crowd to life with a saavy play on Tabor’s next punt. Having eluded his mark and accelerated toward the waiting punt returner, who elected not to call for a fair catch. Bartell dealt the returner a heavy hit, and momentum returned, for the moment, to the Tabor sideline.
The defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense scored its second touchdown as Matt Dean made a nice catch on a pass from Jones with 12:28 to go in the second quarter. The 2-point conversion try failed, leaving Tabor with a 14-12 deficit.
Tabor took advantage of an Ottawa turnover and came within a yard of retaking the lead when a fumble gave Ottawa the ball on its own 1-yard line.
The Braves then marched down the field, covering 99 yards in 5:52 and capping the drive with a touchdown run to make it 21-12 at halftime.
Ottawa received the kickoff in the second half and scored again, making it 28-12 with 12:40 to go.
Bartell electrified the crowd again with a 41-yard kickoff return. Jones found Marsh open for a touchdown pass at 11:32 of the third quarter, but Tabor again came up short on the 2-point conversion. Ottawa couterpunched with another touchdown on the ground with 6:20 left in the third, making it 35-18.
The fourth quarter began with the fourth Tabor touchdown of the night, and the Bluejays scored the 2-point conversion to make it 35-26.
Tabor’s defense stood tall in the fourth quarter, keeping Ottawa off of the scoreboard and the game close, but the Braves ground game killed most of the clock.
With the clock and the Braves, applying tremendous pressure, Tabor turned to its passing attack for one last big play.
Jones dropped back to throw and was flushed out of the pocket. He ran to his left and found no open receivers in front of him, then turned back to his right, reversing his field and throwing a deep strike to Jason Medellin, who had found an opening along the Ottawa sideline.
But Ottawa kept Tabor out of the end zone to preserve the margin of victory.
Tabor amassed 132 rushing yards to Ottawa’s 112 and 193 passing yards to Ottawa’s 205. But Tabor’s turnovers proved impossible to overcome despite the relatively comparable numbers of total yards.