Tabor falls to Grand View, 44-24, in NAIA quarterfinals

The Tabor football team?s playoff run came to an end Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa, as the 11th-ranked Bluejays fell to No. 2 Grand View, 44-24, in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series.

The game pitted Tabor?s second-ranked rushing offense?the Bluejays came into the contest averaging over 329 rushing yards per game?against the second-ranked rushing defense of Grand View, which had given up an average of 78 rushing yards per game prior to Saturday?s contest.

The Vikings limited Tabor to 109 total rushing yards in the game.

Tabor benefitted from three Grand View turnovers in the first quarter and jumped to an early 14-0 lead, but the Vikings responded with 30 unanswered points to claim a 30-14 advantage at halftime, a deficit Tabor could not overcome.

The game began with a fumbled kickoff return by Grand View, and Tabor took over at the Viking 29-yard line. The Bluejays advanced as far as the Viking 3-yard line before a penalty and a couple tackles for loss brought up fourth-and-goal from the Grand View 15-yard line. The Bluejays came up empty when Jared Slavens? 32-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

Tabor got a break on Grand View?s ensuing possession when Ben Gardner intercepted quarterback Derek Fulton?s second-down pass. The Bluejays found the end zone on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Nelson to Nick Solis, capping a six-play, 44-yard drive. Slavens? kick gave Tabor a 7-0 lead with 2:54 left in the opening quarter.

With things going Tabor?s way, Fulton fumbled on first down, and Michael Pineda recovered the ball at the Grand View 1-yard line. Nelson was in the end zone on the first play of the drive, adding a second Tabor touchdown just 18 seconds after the first to boost the Bluejays? lead to 14-0.

But the tide began to change when Grand View answered with a six-play, 58-yard scoring drive capped by a 31-yard touchdown pass that narrowed Tabor?s lead to 14-7 with 5 seconds left in the opening quarter. The Vikings added a safety when a snap sailed high on an attempted Tabor punt, and Grand View took the lead, 16-14, just over a minute later on a 10-yard touchdown run.

The Vikings added two more touchdowns before halftime, on a 20-yard pass and a 1-yard run, for a 30-14 advantage at intermission.

Tabor opened the second half with a missed field goal from 44 yards out, but after Grand View went three-and-out, the Bluejays added points to the board. The scoring drive was highlighted by four catches by Scott Bauer for 65 yards, and Slavens capped the 12-play, 77-yard drive with a 26-yard field goal to bring Tabor within 30-17 with 4:18 left in the third quarter.

Grand View, however, scored twice more on passes of 61 and 74 yards for a 44-17 lead with 3:43 left in the game.

The Bluejays managed a final touchdown with 47 seconds left when Nelson connected with James Monroe for a 20-yard touchdown strike to polish a 10-play, 76-yard drive. Slavens? kick made it 44-24, a margin that held to the end.

Tabor concludes the season with an overall record of 10-3, while Grand View improves to 12-0.

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