Bethel beats back Bluejays, 54-7

TCfbBethelWashington.jpg
TCfbBethelWashington.jpg

Derek Washington cuts between crisp blocks as Jacob Sivells and Drew Looper pave the way for Tabor?s only touchdown Saturday.

With a 54-7 win over the Tabor College football team Saturday in North Newton, Bethel reasserted its claim on second place in the KCAC.

The Bluejays asserted themselves only once on offense, and only for an instant: an 89-yard run by Derek Washington on the first play of the fourth quarter was Tabor?s only score.

The Bluejays as a team finished with 89 rushing yards on 38 carries, and totaled just 44 passing yards as injuries continued to pile up at the quarterback position.

Tabor was without Marc Amos, who accounted for three touchdowns a week ago, and lost Bryan Knighton to an upper body injury early in the second half.

?I don?t know if I?ve ever seen or heard of a situation where, in a season and seven games, a coach has utilized so many different starters,? coach Mike Gottsch said. ?It has really been a thorn in the side in our battle to establish consistency.?

Amos and several other Bluejays missed the game because of team rules violations.

The Threshers led 20-0 at the start of the second quarter, 41-0 at halftime, and 48-0 through three quarters.

Unfortunately for the Bluejays, there was no Paul Harvey-style plot twist waiting in the wings.

For Tabor, the rest of the story contained only six first downs and Washington’s blazing touchdown run.

The Bluejay defense limited the Threshers to 335 yards of offense?a significant accomplishment in light of the 500-plus yard outings had by KCAC leaders Friends, Ottawa and Sterling at Tabor?s expense earlier in the year.

But Bethel made up the difference on special teams. The Threshers returned one punt for a touchdown and another to the Tabor 2-yard line, and the Thresher kick coverage units forced and recovered two fumbles.

The Bluejay offense?which employed its sixth quarterback and fifth different starter in the last 17 games?gave away four more possessions: three interceptions and one fumble.

One of Tabor’s three interceptions was returned for a touchdown.

As difficult as Bethel (6-1 overall, 5-1 KCAC) made things for the Bluejays, Tabor actually started the game well on offense, racking up three first downs on its initial series and advancing from the Tabor 20 to the midfield line on 10 plays.

But the 11th play of the game?a punt on fourth-and-7?was disasterous for the Bluejays. Tabor punter Kevin Carroll got off a high spiraling punt that returner Mervin Brookins collected on one bounce ball at his own 11.

Brookins cut to the sideline and outran the Tabor coverage unit for an 89-yard touchdown.

Tabor stuffed the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt, but Bethel led 6-0.

?We had some young guys playing well on that first series?Dareck Yeoman caught a tipped throw for a first down, and Tristan Burrow had a good catch,? Gottsch said. ?But after we gave up the big punt return, all the momentum we had was gone.?

Tabor went 3-and-out on the next series, and the Bethel offense scored three plays later. Beau Cox took a screen pass 24 yards to paydirt for a 13-0 Thresher lead with 6:13 left in the frame.

After another Bluejays 3-and-out, the Tabor defense earned its first stop of the day when cornerback Sean Retting forced a fumble from Lee Voth-Gaeddert and linebacker Brendon Smith made the recovery.

The offense took the field, first-and-10 at the Bluejay 32, but was again unable to move the ball. After the punt, the Tabor defense then stopped Bethel on three straight plays, with Adam Dirks knocking down a pass attempt on third-and-5 at the Tabor 49.

But Bethel converted with a fake punt on fourth down, and scored on a 37-yard pass from Brett Clow to Darron Morgan two plays later.

Braden Dragomir?s extra point made it 20-0 with 12 seconds left in the first quarter, and it was more of the same during the middle quarters.

But when the fourth period began?with Tabor facing third-and-12 at its own 11?the Bluejays finally put together a perfectly executed play.

Beginning with an overwhelming and precise effort by the offensive line, Tabor smashed a gaping hole for Washington on Bethel’s right flank, and effective downfield blocking allowed Washington to outrun all pursuers.

Only one Thresher to laid a hand on him, and Washington barely broke stride powering out of his grip near the Bethel 40.

The 89-yard run made it 48-7.

The Tabor defense raised its game after that, forcing a punt and two field goals the rest of the way. But the offense’s bright spot was meteoric, fading quickly when the Bluejays lost a fumble on their own 18 on the next series.

The defense forced Goessel High School alumnus Garrett Hiebert into an interception with 11:25 left in the fourth, but Hiebert had already done his damage for the day: he led Bethel with 61 rushing yards on 14 carries, and added 4-for-7 passing for 17 yards.

Hiebert accounted for two touchdowns: one rushing, one passing.

Defensively for Tabor, Teal Stutzman notched 13 tackels. Terence George and Jon Ramos each had eight. In addition to a forced fumble, Retting had seven tackles and an interception.

Coming?Tabor (0-7) visits Southwestern (0-7). The Moundbuilders are coming off a 54-0 defeat by Friends Saturday in Wichita.

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