Tabor?s late rally against Bacone College in Saturday?s season opener wasn?t quite enough to earn the Bluejays a victory at Muskogee, Okla.
The 25-20 outcome was reminiscent of the weakness that plagued Tabor all last season and proved to be the Bluejays? undoing: turnovers costing points.
Bacone made its offensive mark early in the first quarter, thanks to a 54-yard run from tailback Aron McCoy that put the Warriors on top, 7-0, with 8:50 remaining.
Two fields goals from Bacone kicker Jamie Moore for a combined 90 yards put the Warriors solidly in the lead, 13-0, at halftime.
But the momentum began to swing when Tabor defensive back Anthony Daniel intercepted quarterback Kyle Kuban?s pass to put the Bluejays in scoring position on the 25-yard line.
Tabor needed four plays to get points on the board, finally settling for a 37-yard field goal by kicker Joe Cannon to shave Bacone?s lead to 13-3.
The Warriors earned a big break, though, when a Tabor fumble was recovered by safety Erik King on the Bluejays? 34-yard line. Kuban connected with Rashad Rich for a 14-yard pass for the score that made 20-3 with 8:51 left in the third quarter.
But the Bluejays didn?t roll over quite yet.
Tabor?s sophomore quarterback Simon McKee threaded a 20-yard pass to Scott Bauer in the end zone to make it a 20-10 ball game.
After the Jays recovered a Bacone fumble, McKee scored on a keeper, turning the home team?s solid lead into a 20-17 margin going into the fourth quarter.
The Bluejay defense forced a Warrior punt on their next possession, then scored on a field goal to tie the game at 20 with 11:44 left.
But the comeback was not to be. Bacone pieced together a 13-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a 24-yard field goal by Moore.
Tabor still had a chance to win and drove to the 45-yard line. But McKee fumbled and Bacone?s Deantre Harlan recovered the ball on the Bluejay 38-yard line.
Tabor held off Bacone, but the Warriors forced the Jays to start on the 1-yard line. That opened the door for a safety by defensive lineman Dustin Sherer. Bacone escaped with the 25-20 victory.
The two teams played almost to a standoff offensively. Tabor held an edge on the ground, 243 yards to 184, while Bacone out-passed the Bluejays 109 yards to 25?although Tabor attempted only 12 passes to Bacone?s 25. Total yards tipped toward Tabor, 295 to 293.
McCoy led the Warriors in rushing with 128 yards on 13 attempts and Kuban completed 13 of 25 passes for 109 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
For the Bluejays, McKee set the pace with 140 rushing yards and 52 passing yards and a touchdown through the air. James Monroe Jr., added 119 yards rushing.
Bauer led Tabor with 20 receiving yards and Tanner Giffin added 18.
Junior defensive back JoJo Galvez led Tabor?s defensive effort with five solo tackles and two assists. Chris Sanborn added three solos and four assists.
Coming?Tabor won?t play again until the Sept. 8 home field and conference opener against Sterling College.
Bacone College 25, Tabor 20
Aug. 25 at Muskogee, Okla.
Bacone College (1-0) 10 3 7 5?25
Tabor (0-1) 0 0 17 3?20
First downs 18 20
Rushes/yards 59/243 48/184
Passing yards 52 109
Att/Comp/Int 12/3/0 25/13/2
Punts/Yards Ave. 2/27 4/133
Fumbles/Lost 3/2 5/3
Penalties/Yards 6/40 7/71
TABOR INDIVIDUAL STATS
RUSHING: McKee 22-140, Monroe 28-119, Johnson 8-29, Harrison 1-0.
PASSING: McKee 12-3-52-1
RECEIVING: Baur 1-20, Giffin 1-18, Prescott 1-14.
TACKLES/ASSISTS: Galvez 5/2, Sanborn 3/4, Eteaki 1/5, Godshall 4/1, Krehbiel 4/1, DeJesus 3/2, Murphy 3/2, Daniel 2/3, Gardner 2/2, Mbaye 1/3, Antoine 2/1, Jimenez 2/1, Delk 0/3, France 2/0, Lewis 2/0, Davis 1/0, Reed 1/0, Sainz 1/0, Lawrence 0/1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Daniel 2/16.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Krehbiel 1/0, Reed 1/0, Lawrence 1/0.