The winless streak at the renovated Joel H. Wiens Stadium continued Saturday as Tabor fell to Sterling 33-14 in the Bluejays? homecoming game.
Sterling and its option-style offense amassed 251 rushing yards in a productive yardage game for both teams. The Bluejays were able to move on offense, but turnovers and failures to execute inside the red zone kept them off the scoreboard until the third quarter.
?The red zone is where you?re supposed to execute in the game of football? said coach Mike Gardner. ?We have a hard time running the football in the red zone. That lends itself to some situations.?
Gardner explained, ?When you get down to the 20, unless you?re putting up walls, the passing lanes and those kinds of things get restricted considerably.?
Tabor moved inside the Sterling 20 three times in the first half, but was unable to score until the 5:08 mark in the third quarter.
Sterling took advantage of the early scoring woes, establishing a 19-0 lead in the first half.
The Bluejays scored their first points of the game with a 10-yard run from Joaquim Haywood to cut the Sterling lead to 19-7 with 5:08 to play in the third.
Despite the red zone ineffectiveness, Tabor was 12-points down with an opportunity to move within a touchdown with 3:38 in the third quarter. However Tabor did not capitalize.
After Jason Daughtry intercepted a Keoki Burbank pass intended for Jo Jo Curiel, Tabor offense stalled at midfield. Tabor punted the ball, setting up a crucial time-killing drive by Sterling.
Taking over possession at its own 17 with 1:58 to play in the third, Sterling used 10:35 of the game clock on an 18-play, 83-yard drive. A Rashard Colquitt touchdown run gave the Warriors a 26-7 lead with 6:32 left.
?They have the type of offense designed to wear you out,? said Gardner. ?That?s basically what they did.?
Tabor couldn?t answer, turning the ball over at the 5:42 mark on an unusual play. An Erickson pass went through the hands of Duray Gardner to Tyler Davis, who made a move up field and fumbled. Sterling?s James Mahla recovered the loose ball to give Sterling possession at the Tabor 29-yard line.
Sterling ran four plays to score the game securing touchdown, giving the Warriors a 33-7 lead with 3:42 to play.
Scoring on the ensuing possession, Tabor found the end zone with an Erickson strike to Duray Gardener from the Tabor 16.
?We played much better than we did last week,? said Gardner.
Jesse Bundrage led all rushers with 97 yards on 17 carries. Burbank ran nine times for 53 yards and was 10-for-17 with 139 yards.
Erickson finished 23-of-43 for 269 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Gardener led all receivers with six catches for 93 yards.
Tabor (1-4, 1-5) is on a four game losing streak heading into a Saturday match up with rival Bethel. Game time from North Newton will be Saturday at 1:30 p.m. That game will be broadcast at www.hillsborofreepress.com.
To watch Saturday?s Tabor vs. Sterling homecoming match up, access the following link: https://www.hillsborofreepress.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=18093517&catid=3.