Bethany tops Debut Defeat: Tabor as KCAC discovers Wiens Stadium

TCfbAdrianClay.jpg
TCfbAdrianClay.jpg

Tabor College wide receiver Adrian Clay secures one of his four catches during the first official college football game at the new Joel Wiens stadium. The Bluejays came from 21 points behind to take a fourth-quarter lead, but could not stop Bethany from pulling off a 41-37 win on Saturday.

On the opening night of Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference football at the new Joel Wiens Stadium, the Tabor College football team fell to 0-2 despite leading Bethany early in the fourth quarter of a 41-37 loss on Saturday.

Tabor averaged nearly 6.5 yards per play on offense while its defense held Bethany to 112 rushing yards?but three costly turnovers swung 17 points in Bethany?s favor.

Even with the turnovers, Bluejays coach Mike Gottsch said the game ?came down to one play.?

?I?m really proud of our team with the penalty reduction from week number one,? he said. ?We had one penalty for 5 yards?shows players want to work at becoming more disciplined. We need the same attention to reduction in turnover ratio.?

In part because Tabor committed a special teams giveaway early in the contest, the Bluejays trailed the Swedes for all of three quarters. The Bluejays rallied in the third quarter and overhauled Bethany?s 21-point lead when Derek Washington scored on the first play of the fourth period.

?As long as we have success throwing the ball, Derek will continue to be very productive,? Gottsch said. ?Bethany's defense gameplan was putting eight in the box and tightening safetys down. They didn't want us to run the ball.?

Washington has totaled five touchdowns through two games this season.

The Swedes responded to his fourth quarter touchdown with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by Oshane Malcolm plowing into the end zone from a yard out. The extra point put Bethany ahead 34-31 with 10:17 left in the contest.

Moments later, Bluejays quarterback Marc Amos was intercepted by Bethany?s Michael Terry, who returned the pick 39 yards for the decisive touchdown.

Down by 10, Amos lead a an 8-play scoring drive that included a 15-yard scramble to convert a fourth-and-3. Two plays later, Amos found Marquis Leauma for an 8-yard touchdown pass, but the point after kick was no good.

?Amos is really maturing and showed that with the way he led the team in the second half,? Gottsch said. ?Statistically he is one of the top rated in the conference and Marc's ability to run the ball keeps defenses honest.?

He rushed for 65 yards Saturday.

Trailing 41-37 with 6:10 left, the Bluejays defense created a takeaway by pressuring Swedes quarterback Steven Baker into an overthrow that was intercepted by senior safety Nick Brown on third-and-13.

?The defense is getting takeaways,? Gottsch noted. ?We must get more in-tune to third-and-long situations and not allow for conversions when we have offenses in these situations. Tighter coverage, better pressure and not letting offenses off the hook in third-and-long will be an emphasis this week.?

With Amos running the option, Tabor blasted three straight runs through the Bethany front, advancing from the Bluejays 43 to the Swedes 5-yard line, where Amos fumbled the ball back to Bethany.

The Swedes converted a third-and-9 from their own five with a 46-yard completion from Baker to Matthew Redding. Three plays later, another first down?Bethany?s 23rd?effectively ended the game.

The Swedes led 10-0 with a 22-yard field goal after their second possession stalled deep in Bluejays territory. Bethany?s first possession ended in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Baker to Robert Anderson, and the Bluejays lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.

Tabor cut into Bethany lead with a 27-yard field goal by Steven Gulledge 41 seconds into the second quarter.

Bethany answered with a 13 play series capped by Malcolm?s first touchdown, and 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 around the right side. The 14-yard touchdown and the extra point brought Tabor within 24-10 at halftime.

On the strength of deflections by defensive backs JJ Bean and Mario Nava, the Tabor defense stopped a 7-play Bethany series short of the end zone starting the second half. Bethany added to its lead with a field goal, but the Bluejays counted it as the first of four straight stops in the third quarter.

The Bluejays offense scored twice in the frame: a 9-yard touchdown pass from Amos to Daniel Jost, and a 9-yard touchdown run by Washington.

?We began to loosen them up by emptying the backfield,? Gottsch said. ?This allowed us to dictate to them in the second half.?

Washington finished with 77 rushing yards and three scores while Jost finished with one touchdown among three catches for 59 yards. Adrian Clay led Tabor receivers with four catches for 77 yards.

?Every facet of the game must continue to improve,? he added. ?I believe this team loves to compete and will continue to get better. They understand how close they have been the last couple weeks to victory.?

Coming?Tabor (0-2) visits the Friends Falcons (1-1), who are coming off a 45-7 home win over Southwestern. The Falcons were picked first in the conference pre-season polls, and were ranked No. 9 in the NAIA prior to their surprising Week 1 loss to McPherson.

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