Bluejays back on track vs. Moundbuilders

Charles Beale (20) hurdles a Southwestern defender as he returns a punt 50 yards during the second quarter, giving Tabor the ball at the Southwestern 27-yard line. Tabor scored three plays later as Drevion Cooper capped the drive with a 1-yard run, extending Tabor’s lead to 24-3.
Charles Beale (20) hurdles a Southwestern defender as he returns a punt 50 yards during the second quarter, giving Tabor the ball at the Southwestern 27-yard line. Tabor scored three plays later as Drevion Cooper capped the drive with a 1-yard run, extending Tabor’s lead to 24-3.
Tabor used a dominating first-half to defeat the visiting Southwestern football team, 37-16, Sunday in a game postponed from Saturday because of weather.

The Bluejays outscored the Moundbuilders 27-3 in the first half, scoring on every possession but one to give Tabor a solid lead.

Offensively, the Bluejays relied on their rushing game, gaining 383 of their 504 yards of offense on the ground, bolstered by two 100-yard rushers. Drevion Cooper led the attack with 16 carries for 115 yards and one touchdown, while Jason Logologo surpassed the century mark with 13 carries for 104 yards.

Defensively, Tabor shut down Southwestern’s passing game, giving up just 46 yards through the air. The Builders gained 188 yards rushing on the day for a total of 234 yards.

“Our game-plan going in today was basically we felt like we could run the football,” coach Mike Gardner said. “Defensively, it was good that we were able to get off the field when we did early in the game.

“What ended up happening as time went was they ran the ball a little bit more effectively than what I thought was going to happen. We took away their passing game, for the most part. I’m really pleased with how our kids came out and performed and played.”

After a missed 44-yard field goal attempt on Tabor’s first drive of the game, the Bluejays scored on every first-half possession.

Tabor needed just three plays to score its first touchdown, thanks to a 36-yard touchdown strike by Curry Parham to Zach Johnson to cap a 48-yard drive. Austin Smith’s kick made it 7-0 with 8:26 left in the first quarter.

Nate Bady intercepted a Builder pass four plays later, giving the Bluejays the ball at the Southwestern 35. Lolani Faaloua, a defensive lineman, capped the seven-play drive with a diving 2-yard touchdown run. Tabor’s 14-0 lead held through the first quarter.

Southwestern managed just 63 yards of offense in the first quarter, but the period ended with the Builders on the move. Six plays into the second quarter, Southwestern scored on a 22-yard field goal.

Tabor answered with a field goal of its own when Smith sent a 35-yard kick through the uprights. That made it 17-3 with 7:34 left in the half.

Aided by a 50-yard punt return by Charles Beale to the Southwestern 27-yard line, Tabor needed three plays to score. Drevion Cooper capped the drive with a 1-yard run, extending Tabor’s lead to 24-3.

Smith tacked on a 33-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in the half for a 27-3 lead at intermission.

Tabor lost some momentum after halftime, suffering a lost fumble on the opening kickoff. That led to a Southwestern score 58 seconds later, thanks to a 31-yard run.

The Bluejays punted for the first time after that, but Evan Sprayberry forced a fumble to stop Southwes­tern’s ensuing drive. The Bluejays were unable to score despite taking over at the Builder 28-yard line. Tabor also fumbled the ball away later in the quarter.

An interception by Sean Kelley led to Tabor’s only scoring drive of the period. Tabor covered 93 yards in 10 plays, with Parham connected with Johnson for a 19-yard score. Tabor’s 34-10 lead held through the end of the period.

Southwestern scored seven plays into the fourth quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion pass attempt fell incomplete.

Smith tacked on a 52-yard field goal attempt after that to cap a 10-play, 34-yard drive, bringing it to the final 37-16 margin with 7:53 to play.

Kaiser Perez forced a fumble after that, and Tabor nailed down the 21-point victory. Kaleb Neuschafer led Tabor’s defense with 10 tackles.

The win marked Gard­ner’s 100th career victory.

Coming—Tabor (4-1, 4-2), who ranked 23rd in the Oct. 9 NAIA Top 25 poll, will host 25th-ranked Kansas Wesleyan for homecoming Saturday at 2 p.m. The Coyotes (4-1, 5-2) are coming off a 26-13 win over Friends.