The 13th-ranked Tabor College football team did its part in a quest for a conference championship Saturday by defeating Bethel, 40-10.
The Bluejays also got some help from the University of Saint Mary, who defeated KCAC-leading and 10th-ranked Kansas Wesleyan, 38-24, to propel Tabor to the top of the standings and give the Bluejays their second-consecutive KCAC title.
Tabor scored 30 of its points in the first half. The Bluejays got an early gift when the Threshers threw an interception on the game’s opening play. Kevin Golden was credited with the pick, and Tabor scored in eight plays when Jared Slavens sent a 32-yard field goal through the uprights.
After a Bethel three and out, Tabor needed six plays to cover 48 yards. Zack Johnson hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Curry Parham, giving Tabor a 10-0 lead.
Bethel’s defense scored the Threshers’ only touchdown, when, two plays into Tabor’s next drive, Parham completed a pass to Johnson, only to have the Bethel defender strip the ball from him and take it for a 20-yard touchdown. That made it 10-7 with 4:07 left in the opening period, a margin that held through the end of the quarter.
Tabor’s next drive was aided by three Thresher penalties, and on first and goal from the Bethel 2-yard line, Keith Thomas completed a touchdown pass to defensive lineman Dimitri Bowie, who played a handful of snaps on offense during the game. The extra-point kick missed its mark, giving Tabor a 16-7 advantage.
Bethel then fumbled the ball away on first down and Maurice Payne recovered it at the Thresher 33-yard line. On the fourth play of the drive, Charles Beale made a diving touchdown catch on an 18-yard pass from Parham. That made it 23-7.
Tabor struck again at the 6:05 mark when Parham completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Johnson on the ninth play of the drive, extending Tabor’s lead to 30-7.
Bethel made a 48-yard field goal right before halftime, making it 30-10 at intermission.
Tabor scored on the second half’s opening possession. The drive was highlighted by a 27-yard pass from Parham to Jonah McKee, and later, an 18-yard run by Ontre’Von Cooper. Cooper crossed the goal line from 3 yards out to cap the five-play, 60-yard drive. With 12:47 left in the period, Tabor led, 37-10.
Evan Sprayberry forced a fumble on Bethel’s next possession, and Matthew Chilo recovered it. But Tabor fumbled the ball back to Bethel on the next play. Neither team scored the duration of the quarter.
Two plays into the fourth quarter, however, Jared Slavens drilled an 18-yard field goal, extending Tabor’s lead to the final, 30-point spread.
Tabor rolled up 403 yards of offense while limiting Bethel to 133. The Bluejays rushed for 233 yards, led by Cooper with 16 carries for 152 yards and a touchdown.
Through the air, Parham was 13-for-18 for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
Sprayberry and Alex Neuschafer each had eight tackles. Sprayberry recorded three sacks.
Coming—As the KCAC regular-season champion, Tabor will await its first postseason opponent to be revealed Sunday.