Tabor defeats 10th-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene, 21-13

What does it take to defeat the 10th-ranked football team in the NAIA??

The Tabor Bluejays?who entered Saturday?s game against MidAmerica Nazarene as the 17th-ranked team?showed how it could be done, using an overpowering rushing game and tough defensive effort to defeat the 10th-ranked Pioneers, 21-13.

Tabor pounded out 325 yards on the ground, led by senior running back James Monroe who accounted for 171 of those yards.

MidAmerica managed 132 yards rushing, and although the Pioneers out-passed Tabor 174-16, the effort was not enough to hold off the Bluejays.

After Donnell Davis intercepted a Trent Hedlund pass on MidAmerica?s opening drive, Tabor capitalized when Monroe pounded in an 8-yard touchdown run. Jared Slavens? kick made it 7-0 with 11:24 left in the opening period.

Not to be outdone, MidAmerica answered with a scoring drive of its own that lasted into the second quarter. The Pioneers covered 69 yards in 15 plays to score on a 12-yard touchdown pass. The PAT tied the game at 7-7 with 8:57 left in the half.

After a Tabor punt, the Pioneers managed the go-ahead score on a 30-yard field goal.

When Tabor couldn?t answer, MidAmerica added a second field goal, this one from 29 yards out, to boost its lead to 13-7 at the break.

Tabor?s opening drive of the second half ended when McKee was sacked on fourth-and-15, but the Tabor defense held, and the Pioneers came up empty on fourth-and-6 at the Tabor 15-yard line when a 32-yard Pioneer field goal attempt missed wide left.

Tabor went back to work, covering 80 yards in six plays to find the end zone a second time when Monroe scored on a 5-yard carry. Slavens? kick gave Tabor a 14-13 lead with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

After the teams traded punts, the Tabor defense came up with a stop when a Pioneer fake punt failed to convert on fourth-and-5.

That led to Tabor?s final scoring drive of the night. The Bluejays stuck to the running game, pounding out 51 yards on five plays. McKee found the end zone on a quarterback keeper, rushing 22 yards for the score. Slavens? kick gave Tabor a 21-13 lead with 11:05 left in the game.

MidAmerica found some success, driving down to the Tabor 7-yard line, but the Bluejay defense held to bring up fourth-and-goal. The ensuing Pioneer 24-yard field goal attempt missed wide left to turn the ball over on downs.

Staying on the ground, Monroe and the Bluejay offense pounded out yardage and continued to convert to maintain possession of the ball for 7:40 and run out the clock. McKee took a knee on fourth-and-2, giving the ball back to MidAmerica at the Pioneers? 23-yard line with just 4 seconds remaining in the game.

Both of MidAmerica?s pass attempts fell incomplete, and Tabor came away with the victory.

With the win, the Bluejays improved to 2-0 on the season. They will host their first KCAC opponent, University of St. Mary, Saturday at 7 p.m.

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