After a dismal start saw their beloved Bluejays trail visiting Bethany 10-0 early in the first quarter of the Tabor College football team?s home opener Saturday at the newly-constructed Joel Wiens Stadium, the throng of home fans ended up mostly satisfied by a game that became competitive as it wore on. The final score favored Bethany, 41-37.
On the heels of a loss to Kansas Wesleyan that the team regarded as a missed opportunity, the Bluejays squandered another chance to stake out an early-season win.
Tabor led 31-27 after Derek Washington scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the Bluejays defense could not prevent Bethany from striking back immediately. An 11-play, 75-yard series powered by running back Oshane Malcolm consumed 4:25 of the remaining clock and left the Swedes with a 34-31 lead.
Moments later, Bluejays quarterback Marc Amos was intercepted by Bethany?s Michael Terry, whose 39-yard return culminated in what proved to be the decisive score.
Amos bounced back to lead Tabor on an 8-play, 50-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Leauma with 6:10 left.
Tabor safety Nick Brown?s interception with 5:21 to go gave the Bluejays a chance to drive for the win. But the drive fell abruptly short when Amos lost a fumble inside the Bethany 5-yard line.
The ensuing Swedes drive consumed all but 10 seconds of the remaining clock, and time expired during a last-ditch attempt at a punt return.
Tabor cut into Bethany?s 10-0 lead with a 27-yard field goal by Steven Gulledge 41 seconds into the second quarter.
Malcom scored 13 plays later, and Robert Anderson made his second touchdown reception of the game with 1:11 left in the first half.
Washington answered for Tabor, reversing his field and sprinting to the left pylon on a pitch play designed to run right. That score made it 24-10.
On the strength of a deflection by cornerback JJ Bean, the Tabor defense stopped a 7-play Bethany series short of the end zone starting the second half.
The ensuing field goal made it 27-10, but the Bluejay defense paved the way for the rally by physically dominating the rest of the third quarter.
The Bluejays scored twice in the frame: a 9-yard touchdown from Amos to Daniel Jost, and a 9-yard touchdown run by Washington.
Washington finished with 77 rushing yards and three scores while Jost finished with three catches for 59 yards. Adrian Clay led Tabor receivers with four catches for 77 yards. Tabor averaged nearly 6.5 yards per play but also committed three costly turnovers: a "red zone" fumble; a special teams fumble on that led to Bethany's second score; and the interception returned for touchdown.
Tabor will play at Friends next week.