The 12th-ranked Tabor Bluejays upset eighth-ranked Ottawa on the road on a blustery afternoon Saturday by a score of 23-20.
James Monroe fueled the Bluejays? potent running attack with 51 carries for 253 yards and a touchdown.
The senior running back accounted for all but 96 of Tabor?s yards in a game where all 349 yards were gained on the ground.
Tabor operated with a two-quarterback system the duration of the game, alternating between Ryan Nelson and Tyler Davis.
Tabor orchestrated the game?s first scoring drive with Davis under center. Monroe carried the ball 12 times during the drive, including two direct snaps at the end of the first quarter that set the Bluejays up, first-and-goal, from the Ottawa 3-yard line. Two plays later, Davis ran in for a 1-yard touchdown, capping a 16-play, 78-yard drive. Jared Slavens? kick gave Tabor a 7-0 lead with 14:34 left before halftime.
Ottawa?s next drive ended when Anthony Daniel intercepted Michael Behr five plays in, and Tabor took over deep in its own territory. But when Tabor was forced to punt, the Bluejay kick netted only 1 yard, and the Braves took over at the Tabor 22-yard line.
The Bluejay defense denied the end zone, and Ottawa opted to attempt a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 6. The 23-yard kick sailed through the uprights to bring Ottawa within 7-3 with 7:36 left in the half.
When Tabor was again forced to punt into the wind?netting 0 yards this time?Ottawa took over at the Bluejay 23-yard line. Once again, the Tabor defense limited Ottawa to a field goal attempt. The 39-yard kick sailed up and hit the right upright but fell through to bring Ottawa within 7-6 with 2:14 to go before halftime.
One and a half minutes later, Ottawa took the lead when Nelson?s pass was intercepted by Erik Brown and ran back for a touchdown. Behr?s 2-point conversion gave Ottawa a 14-7 lead, a margin that held until halftime.
After both teams traded punts to start the second half, Tabor answered with a scoring drive lasting nearly 9 minutes that saw both Nelson and Davis at quarterback. Behind the solid running of Monroe, Tabor orchestrated an 18-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown run by Jonah McKee that tied the game, 14-14, after Slavens? kick with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
But Ottawa again had good field position after a 55-yard kickoff return to the Tabor 29-yard line, and the Braves were in the end zone 20 seconds later when Luke Lundy scampered in for the score on the first play of the drive. The extra-point kick was blocked, giving Ottawa a 20-14 lead.
Tabor responded by marching 70 yards in 12 plays, and Monroe polished the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left in the game. Slavens? kick gave Tabor a 21-20 advantage.
With momentum in Tabor?s favor, the Bluejay defense forced an Ottawa three-and-out. But when Tabor also went three-and-out, Ben Gardner?s punt pinned the Braves deep in their own territory at the 4-yard line.
Ottawa took over with 1:50 left to play. On third down, Behr?s pass from the end zone fell incomplete, but with no eligible receivers in the vicinity, it was ruled a safety, boosting Tabor?s lead to 23-20 with 1:19 to go.
The Bluejays recovered Ottawa?s onside kick and ran out the clock to win by three.
With the win, Tabor improved to 7-2 in the KCAC, second to Sterling at 8-1. Ottawa dropped to 7-2.