Bluejays blank Bethany, 49-0

Ontre’Von Cooper takes the handoff late in the third quarter at Bethany Saturday. Cooper capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to extend Tabor’s lead to the final, 49-0 margin. Cooper led the Bluejays in rushing with 14 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns in Tabor’s 49-0 win. The 13th-ranked Tabor College football team controlled the line of scrimmage in a 49-0 shutout at Bethany Saturday.

After a game-opening punt, the Bluejays scored on seven consecutive possessions. Coach Mike Gardner credited his team’s ability to run the ball and make big plays for fueling its offensive success.

“We had a one-play drive and a two-play drive, and we extended a drive on a fake punt that led to a score,” he said. “Offensively, we have the ability to do that, and if we don’t beat ourselves with penalties and things like that, then normally it ends up being pretty well.”

The Bluejays recording 568 yards of offense while limiting Bethany, who has just one win on the season, to 129 yards.

“I was really pleased with the fact we got a shutout,” Gardner said. “At any level of football, really, shutouts are hard to get.

“We were able to get penetration when we needed to and create sacks, and I thought our linebackers did a decent job of controlling the run game. A lot of credit goes to (Coach CJ Hill) for being able to put together a good game-plan and our guys just executed it.”

The Bluejays got on the board when Zack Johnson rushed for a 14-yard touchdown to cap a 13-play, 95-yard drive with 4:20 left in the first period. Joseph Donnell took the hand-off five times for 48 yards during the drive.

Following a Bluejay penalty, Bethany enjoyed favorable position at the Tabor 32. But the Bluejay defense limited the Swedes to -2 yards in the next four plays, thanks in part to a sack by Evan Sprayberry, who was named KCAC Defensive Player of the Week.

Tabor took its 7-0 lead into the second quarter, and Keith Thomas rushed for a 10-yard touchdown three plays into the period to conclude a 10-play, 66-yard drive.

Following a Bethany three-and-out, Curry Parham connected with Johnson for a 67-yard touchdown pass on first down. Jared Slavens’ kick extended Tabor’s lead, 21-0.

The Bluejays added to their lead when Austin Conway hauled in a 39-yard touchdown reception from Parham on the second play of Tabor’s next drive.

Tabor then covered 71 yards in nine plays, aided by a 21-yard run by Thomas four plays in, to score on a 16-yard run by Ontre’Von Cooper with 1:14 left in the half.

By halftime, Tabor’s lead had grown to 35-0.

The Bluejays added a third-quarter touchdown on a 59-yard pass completion from Parham to Johnson and held a 42-0 advantage heading into the final quarter.

Tabor scored once more, thanks to an 11-yard touchdown run by Cooper with 13:26 left in the game.

Following a 52-yard kickoff return that put the Swedes at the Tabor 36, Bethany threatened to score on its ensuing drive, but Trayvon Hicks intercepted a pass in the end zone to maintain the shutout.

After that, the teams traded punts the rest of the way, as Tabor rolled to the 49-point win.

“We put an emphasis on trying to finish,” Gardner said. “I told them at halftime, ‘We’ve been in this situation three or four times, and we need to learn how to finish. We need to play four quarters, not just two, not just when we feel like it.’

“Obviously, it was nice to come away with a win, and hopefully we can get one more and see what happens in the postseason.”

Tabor rushed for 365 yards, led by Cooper with 14 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

Through the air, Parham was 6-for-10 for 191 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas was 1-for-1 for 12 yards. Johnson had two receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Alex Neuschafer led the defense with eight tackles.

Coming—Tabor (7-1, 7-2), who remains ranked No. 13, will travel to Bethel (3-5, 3-6) Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game to conclude the regular season.

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