Third-quarter effort propels Tabor past Lyon in season-opener

The Tabor College football team used a monstrous third-quarter effort to overpower Lyon College (Ark.) on the road Saturday, 45-21.

The 22nd-ranked Bluejays trailed the Scots, 14-10, at halftime, but scored four unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to establish the lead for good.

The Scots, who were playing their first football game since 1951, scored two plays into the contest on a 56-yard touchdown jaunt by Lyon?s leading rusher Michael Bowles, who burned the Bluejays for 197 yards on 13 first-half carries, thanks to a few big plays.

But the Bluejays did not panic. Tabor scored its first points at the end of its second possession, settling for a 42-yard Jared Slavens field goal despite starting the eight-play drive at the Lyon 32.

The Scots? 7-3 lead held through the end of the first quarter, which ended with Tabor on the move. Ben Bebermeyer punched in a 1-yard score two plays into the second period to push Tabor in front, 10-7.

Bowles sliced?through the defense for a 70-yard gain during Lyon?s second drive of the quarter, setting up a second Scot score two plays later, leaving Tabor trailing by four.

With a lockdown effort on defense, Tabor very well could have held the lead at halftime, were it not for two lost fumbles in the red zone?including one at the Lyon 6.

Offensively, junior transfer Joseph Donnell provided the spark Tabor needed in the second half, bulldozing his way to 115 yards on just four second-half touches. Donnell got the nod on back-to-back plays out of the locker room and covered 50 yards to set up a D?Marco Smith touchdown two plays later.

Defensively, the Bluejays found an answer for Bowles, allowing him only 34 yards on 15 carries after the break.

Tabor, who simply had more weapons at their disposal, was just getting started.

A Lyon fumble led to a 37-yard touchdown run by Donnell on the Bluejays? first play from scrimmage. A second Scot fumble just four plays in to the next drive put the Tabor offense right back on the field.

It took 12 plays for the Bluejays to score, this time on a 1-yard keeper by Simon McKee, extending Tabor?s lead to 31-14 with 4:35 left in the third period.

Tabor?s defense forced a Lyon three-and-out to bring McKee and company back on to the field to face a tiring Lyon defense. In just two plays, Tabor was in the end zone, this time on a 28-yard carry by Donnell. The 38-14 score held through the end of the third quarter.

The Bluejays? final points came with 12:43 to play when Smith took the handoff for a 2-yard score.

Lyon countered with a 79-yard touchdown pass three plays in, bringing it to the final 45-21 margin. It appeared the Scots might piece together one final scoring drive, methodically taking up the final 8:07, only to have the drive end short of the goal line at the Tabor 7.

Both teams favored the ground game. Tabor rolled up 415 yards of total offense, including 327 on the ground. Two Bluejays reached 100 yards for the day: Donnell with eight carries for 140 yards and Smith with 18 carries for 100 yards. Each scored twice. Through the air, McKee was 8-for-12 for 90 yards.

Derrick Lawrence led the defense with 14 total tackles.

Lyon finished with 371 yards of total offense, including 223 yards on the ground.

Coming?Tabor will play its first home game of the season Saturday when No. 12 Northwestern travels to Hillsboro. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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