Tabor falls 23-20 to Kansas Wesleyan

Tabor football fans witnessed a very unfamiliar occurence in recent memory Saturday night at Joel H. Wiens Stadium, an opportunity to win a ball game late.

Despite the late effort, the first game in the second Mike Gardner era at Tabor ended with a 23-20 loss to Kansas Wesleyan.

Down 23-13 with 4:35 remaining in the game, Tabor took possession at its own 28-yard line.
In the next 2:39, Tabor drove 72 yards in 12 plays. Moving the ball with the passing game, senior quarterback Joey Erickson completed passes to Aziz Spellman-Smith, Duray Gardener and Kelseis Brown.

The drive was capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass from Erickson to Gardener. Erickson gave Gardener a second chance on the fade route two plays after Gardener dropped a similar pass in the end zone.

After a Sean Rothwell point after touchdown kick, Tabor trailed 23-20.

With one timeout and 1:54 on the game clock, Tabor elected to try an onside kick.
The attempt to recover the kick was unsuccessful as Kansas Wesleyan senior running back Jake Winship corralled the bouncing football at the Tabor 49-yard line.

Before the last scoring drive by Tabor, the Coyotes extended to a two-score lead at 23-13 with a 39-yard field goal by Jesus Ochoa with 4:35 left.

Tabor?s first touchdown of the season came courtesy of a Coyote mistake.

Backed up at its own 12-yard line after a turnover on downs by Tabor, Kansas Wesleyan advanced to the 23-yard line before being called for a holding penalty.

On the next play, first and 20 from the 13, KWU?senior quarterback Doug Webster mishandled the snap. Artravious Addison dived on the ball at the nine-yard line.

Three plays later, Andrew Herard ran a sweep to the left side for a two-yard touchdown run to make the score 20-13 with 9:59 in the game.

Facing third and 24 from the Tabor 28, Webster found Ricky Roberts at the Tabor 14.
An out-of-bounds late hit by Tabor on and the ensuing shoving match drew a personal foul flag, moving the Coyotes half the distance to the goal line to the Bluejays seven.

On fourth and three, Webster completed a touchdown pass to Winship stretching the KWU?lead to 20-6 with 4:31 in the third.

Neither offense was able to produce a touchdown in the first half, but were able to move the ball.

The Coyotes opened the game with a nine-play 48-yard drive, but came away empty handed as the Tabor defense tightened in the red zone.

After a Ochoa missed a 27 yard field goal on the KWU?opening drive, Tabor drove 68 yards in 16 plays. Tabor?s first points and? 3-0 lead of the season came courtesy of junior kicker Sean Rothwell on a 29-yard field goal with 7:39 to play in the first quarter.

Tabor did not hold its lead long. On the ensuing kick off, KWU?s Horace Carter returned the kick 77 yards for a touchdown from the Coyote 23 to take a 7-3 lead with 4:09 in the first.

Field goals completed the first half scoring. Tabor cut the Coyote lead to 7-6 with a 37-yard field goal after a six play 57-yard drive following the KWU?touchdown.

Kansas Wesleyan went into the half up 13-6 after Ochoa converted two more field goals, one a 37-yarder with 10:46 in the half to go up 10-6, the last a 21-yarder with 3:36 in the half.

KWU outgained Tabor with 379 yards of total offense on 71 plays.

The Bluejays netted 309 yards on 71 plays.

Joey Erickson went 25-for-43 for 231 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Aziz Spellman-Smith had seven receptions for 89 yards, including a 42-yard reception from Erickson late in the first quarter.

Duray Gardener caught nine passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.
James Monroe led the Bluejays in rushing with 33 yards on 11 carries.

For KWU?Webster finished 23-for-35 with 262 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also led KWU?in rushing with 14 carries for 60 yards.

Winship gained 58 yards on 16 attempts.

Ricky Roberts led all receiver with nine catches for 98 yards.

Kansas Wesleyan (1-0, 1-0 KCAC) will continue its season hosting St. Mary Saturday.

Tabor (0-1, 0-1) travels to Bethany Saturday.

KCAC?results
Kansas Wesleyan 23, Tabor 20
Bethany 51, St Mary 27
Sterling 28, Southwestern 17
McPherson 52, Friends 20
Ottawa 62, Bethel 23

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