Tabor upset by Southwestern in 27-6 loss

Michael Griffin tackles Southwestern quarterback Tyler Crandall for a 2-yard loss late in the third quarter Saturday. Tabor lost the game to the Moundbuilders, 27-6.
Michael Griffin tackles Southwestern quarterback Tyler Crandall for a 2-yard loss late in the third quarter Saturday. Tabor lost the game to the Moundbuilders, 27-6.
Traveling to Southwestern, the home of the Moundbuilders and the ?Jinx,? the Tabor College football team found little good fortune in a 27-6 loss Saturday.

Superstition aside, not much seemed to go the Bluejays? way, and Tabor suffered its first loss of the season to a previously winless Moundbuilder squad.

The game remained within reach for three quarters of play, as Southwestern clung to a 6-0 lead heading into the final quarter.

As it were, the first play of the fourth quarter was a momentum-builder for Tabor. Earlier in the game, the Bluejays saw two of their field goal attempts blocked, and Colin Hodges returned the favor by blocking a 32-yard attempt by Southwestern?s Mario Esparza.

But Tabor went three-and-out, putting the ball back in the hands of the Moundbuilders. The Tabor defense came on the verge of forcing a three-and-out, but after Southwestern?s third-down pass was completed for no gain, the Bluejays were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Moundbuilders a fresh set of downs to work with.

Things went downhill from there, as the Moundbuilders made it a two-possession game on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Braden Langston to Skylor Kistler, capping an 11-play drive. Esparza?s kick made it 13-0 with 6:26 left in the game.

Desperately needing points, Tabor could not convert, coming up just short on fourth-and-2.

Things went from bad to worse when Southwestern turned a third-and-13 at its own 40-yard line into another score, thanks to Kistler?s 60-yard touchdown scamper through the Bluejay defense. Esparza?s kick increased the Moundbuilders? lead to 20-0 with 3:25 left in the game.

With the game quickly getting out of hand, Southwestern added insult to injury by scooping up a Tabor fumble on first down and returning it for yet another score just 16 seconds later, much to the delight of Southwestern?s homecoming crowd. Esparza?s kick made it 27-0 with 3:09 to go.

With one final offensive opportunity, Tabor pieced together a redeeming scoring drive to avoid the shutout. The Bluejays covered 33 yards in four plays, and quarterback Jessie Robbins ran in from 15 yards out for the score with 1:53 left in the game. Jared Slavens? kick was no good, bringing the score to the final, 27-6 margin.

The game began with Tabor forcing a Southwestern three-and-out, but the Bluejays? first drive stalled at the Moundbuilder 25-yard line, and Slavens? 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Vince Folston. Southwestern recovered the ball and took it 34 yards to the Tabor 43, setting up the Moundbuilders? first scoring drive. Southwestern was in the end zone in six plays, cashing in on a 1-yard touchdown run by Anthony Sims. The two-point conversion pass attempt failed, putting the Moundbuilders in front, 6-0, with 5:20 left in the first quarter.

Folston blocked a second Slavens? field goal attempt on Tabor?s next drive, this time from 33 yards out. A Moundbuilder block-in-the-back penalty negated what would have been a Southwestern score after the blocked field goal.

Neither team found much offensive success after that, and the first half ended with the same, 6-0 margin.

Slavens missed a 36-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, and the score remained 6-0 heading into the fatal final quarter.

Tabor managed 171 yards of total offense, including 156 rushing yards led by Cody Coleman with nine carries for 53 yards. Through the air, Robbins was 3-for-6 for 15 yards. Southwestern, meanwhile, rolled up 290 yards of total offense, including 170 rushing and 120 passing.

Coming?Tabor (2-1, 4-1) will travel to Kansas Wesleyan (1-2, 1-4) Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game.

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