Bluejays beat St. Mary for third win in four games

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Tabor College ended the first season of the second Mike Gardner era on a winning note, dropping the University of St. Mary, 27-7, Saturday at Joel H. Wiens Stadium.

The win was Tabor?s third in the final four games and gave the Bluejays a 4-5 record in the KCAC and a 4-6 mark overall.

St. Mary started the Bluejays? senior day by recovering an onside kick on its opening kickoff. The Spires moved inside the 5-yard line with a 48-yard run by Shaqulle Spearman, but was forced to attempt a field goal.

The attempt was blocked by Jason Daughtry to hold St. Mary scoreless on the opening drive.

?We talked about that all week long,? Gardner said. ?I said, guys, come out and expect everything and anything.?

After the goal-line stand, Tabor scored 17 answered points before the Spires got on the board with a touchdown in the second quarter.

Tabor?s offensive spurt began with a 10-yard James Monroe touchdown run, capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive. The freshman?s first score and the ensuing point-after kick by Sean Roth?well put Tabor ahead 7-0 with 8:58 left in the first quarter.

After forcing a Spires turnover on downs at the 50-yard line, Tabor scored again on a 29-yard field goal at the 3:50 mark after moving 38 yards on eight plays.

It didn?t take long for Tabor to add to its lead. Quarterback Joey Erickson completed a touchdown pass to Duray Gardner, followed by a Rothwell kick, to push the score to 17-0 with 13:59 left in the half.

St. Mary stalled out again but recovered some momentum for a while with an interception of Erickson.

Following a Spires three-and-out, Aziz Spellman-Smith returned a Bobby Schattle punt 58 yards to the Spires? 5-yard line. An illegal formation infraction moved Tabor to the 2-yard line.

On first-and-goal, Erickson was intercepted by Chris Barrett in the end zone.

Starting at its own 20, St. Mary moved down field, but was stopped on fourth down at the Bluejay 26.

Tabor took over and picked up one first down before punting back to the Spires.

St. Mary scored on the ensuing drive on an eight-yard pass from Mike Keese to Billy Owens. The score was set up by an 82-yard run on third-and-10 from the St. Mary 10.

A Schattle PAT kick cut Tabor?s lead to 17-7 with 1:58 left in the first half.

The Bluejays put some distance between them and the Spires with 6:10 left in the third quarter. Tabor capped a nine-play, 58-yard drive with a one-yard Monroe touchdown run and a Rothwell kick. Tabor ended the third quarter with the 24-7 lead.

Tabor scored once more on a 23-yard field goal by Rothwellin the final quarter

?I wish I had another year with the same guys,? Gardner said afterward. ?Its a really great group of guys. I?grew close to the seniors that were here.?

Tabor?s four wins eclipse the win total from the combined last three seasons.

The seniors celebrated a victory in the final game with a water shower of Gardner and assistant coach Billy Hickman.

?You know it?s always good to have a victory shower,? said Gardner. ?I don?t mind those as much.?

Tabor finished with 409 yards on 73 plays. Erickson completed 16-of-29 passes for 132 yards, one score and two interceptions in the game of his career.

Another senior, Andrew Herard, led Tabor?s rushers with 125 yards on 14 carries while Erickson picked up 84 yards on 17 attempts.

Gardener had six catches for 37 yards and a score and Spellman-Smith had three catches for 42 yards.

The?Blujays held St Mary to 296 yards of offense and forced three turnovers. Daughtry and Chris Sanborn led the Bluejay defense with eight tackles.

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