It was too little, too late for the No. 10 Tabor College football team on homecoming afternoon Saturday. With missed opportunities, the No. 10 Bluejays came up short, 14-11, to a Friends team receiving votes in the Top 25 poll.
Friends put the first points on the board with 5:34 left in the opening period. The Falcons were aided by two deep passes, including a 42-yard completion on second down, and three plays later, a 37-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Aaron Hansen to Josh Becker. The extra-point kick gave Friends a 7-0 lead, which held through the end of the first quarter.
Neither team had much offensive success in the second period in what became a game of give and take.
Three plays after Tabor quarterback Jordan Bernhardy threw an interception, the Falcons fumbled the ball back to the Bluejays, putting Tabor at the Friends 30-yard line. But Tabor had to settle for a 28-yard field goal attempt when unable to convert on third-and-9 from the 15-yard line. Jared Slavens sent the ball through the uprights to close the gap to 7-3 with 1:05 left in the half.
Donnell Davis snagged an interception two plays into Friends? next drive, but the half ended two plays later.
Friends extended its lead on its first possession of the third quarter, covering 80 yards in 13 plays and scoring on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Hansen to Chris Allen. The extra-point kick made it 14-3 at the 6:27 mark. The Falcons took that lead into the final quarter.
The Tabor defense limited Friends to a field goal attempt two plays into the fourth period. The 39-yard try missed wide right.
After a Bluejay punt, the Tabor defense again came up big when Matt McElroy intercepted Hansen?s pass on the fifth play of the drive. But Friends? defense again forced a Bluejay punt.
Friends? next drive culminated in a blocked punt by Dimitri Bowie, and Michael Griffin recovered the ball and took it to the Falcon 32-yard line.
With new life, an energize Tabor offense needed only two plays to score. Jonah McKee hauled in a 31-yard pass from Bernhardy at the 1-yard line, and Bernhardy was in the end zone on the next play. Bernhardy connected with Bruce Smith in the end zone for the two-point conversion, which brought Tabor within 14-11 with 4:13 left in the game.
Friends recovered Tabor?s onside kick, but the Bluejay defense forced a three-and-out. With 2:32 to work with, Tabor started the drive at its own 14-yard line and advanced to the Tabor 40-yard line before Bernhardy was intercepted by Carlos Cox. Friends then absorbed the final 1:37 to claim the three-point win.
Tabor gained 172 of its 224 total yards on the ground. Marshall McShan led Tabor?s ground game with 16 carries for 63 yards. Through the air, Bernhardy completed three of 10 attempts for 52 yards. The Falcons tallied 258 yards of offense, including 146 passing and 112 rushing.
Ben Gardner led Tabor?s defense with 12 tackles, including one for loss. Dylan Delk added nine tackles, four for loss.
Coming?Tabor (3-2, 5-2) will host McPherson (1-3, 1-5) Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
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