Tabor falls to Kansas Wesleyan in overtime, 45-42

Keith ThomasVoted by fans as the NAIA game of the week, the 12th-ranked Tabor College football team’s contest at 15th-ranked Kansas Wesleyan was a high-scoring affair as the teams combined to score 87 points. In the end, it became a matter of which defense could come up with a stop, and Tabor suffered a 45-42 loss in overtime.

Tabor took a 28-14 lead into the fourth quarter, which turned into a shootout as both offenses combined to score six touchdowns in the period.

The Bluejays punted the ball away three plays into the fourth quarter, but the teams traded five consecutive touchdowns after that.

Kansas Wesleyan began the scoring barrage with an eight-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run to close the gap to 28-21.

After a 61-yard kickoff return by Zach Johnson, Tabor needed two plays to cover 39 yards and score. Cody Coleman found the end zone on a 30-yard run to put Tabor back up by two touchdowns, 35-21.

The Coyotes responded with a 35-yard touchdown pass to cap a four-play, 75-yard drive, for a 35-28 margin. Tabor fired back with a 45-yard touchdown run by Drevion Cooper on the fourth play of its next drive. That made it 42-28 with 5:36 left in the game.

Kansas Wesleyan benefitted from an 80-yard kickoff return that put the Coyotes at the Bluejay 3-yard line, and Kansas Wesleyan needed just one play to punch in a score. The extra-point kick attempt missed its mark, making it 42-34.

Needing an answer, Tabor’s next drive netted 5 yards on three plays, and the Bluejays were forced to punt.

With 4:15 to work with, the Coyotes pieced together a game-tying scoring drive, which was aided by a Bluejay holding penalty on fourth-and-8 from the Tabor 49. With just 13 seconds left in regulation, the Coyotes completed a 3-yard touchdown pass and successfully achieved the two-point conversion to tie the game at 42, despite being penalized for a false start.

With Tabor unable to add points in the final seconds, the teams headed to overtime, where Kansas Wesleyan took the lead with a 24-yard field goal.

The Bluejays got the ball with an opportunity to tie or take the lead, but when the offense stalled, Tabor elected to attempt a 50-yard field goal attempt on fourth-and-18. The attempt missed wide right, sealing the Coyotes’ 45-42 comeback victory.

Both defenses started strong in the scoreless first quarter, although the Coyotes had a touchdown negated by a penalty on their final possession of the period.

Tabor enjoyed a 14-0 lead at halftime, after scoring on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Curry Parham to Skylar Valencia at the 8:05 mark, and later, on a 4-yard run by Drevion Cooper with 22 seconds left in the half.

Each team scored twice in the third quarter. Kansas Wesleyan needed just 35 seconds to get on the board with a 52-yard touchdown run to cut Tabor’s lead in half. But Tabor answered with a 1-yard run by Keith Thomas, making it 21-7.

The Coyotes drew within a touchdown by scoring on a 26-yard pass play, then Tabor scored again when Thomas crossed the goal-line from 5 yards out. That set up the fourth quarter.

Tabor rolled up 477 yards of offense compared with 516 for the Coyotes. The Bluejays rushed for 369 yards, led by Thomas with 12 carries for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Through the air, Parham was 11-for-21 for 93 yards and one touchdown. Thomas was 2-for-5 for 15 yards. Alex Neuschafer led the defense with nine tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss.

Coming—Tabor (4-1, 4-2) will host Friends (3-2, 4-3) for homecoming Saturday at 2 p.m.

For scores and updates during games, follow Janae on Twitter @janaerem13

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