Bluejays defeat Spires, 31-10

The 13th-ranked Tabor College football team earned a 31-10 road victory at the University of Saint Mary Saturday.

Both offenses were slow to start as the teams alternated eight consecutive punts in the first quarter. The only difference was a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown by Charles Beale, giving Tabor a 7-0 lead at the first break.

The Spires, however, completed a 15-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to tie the game at 7.

Tabor answered on its next drive, covering 53 yards in 10 plays. Jared Slavens sent a 29-yard field goal through the uprights to give Tabor the lead, 10-7.

The Bluejays needed four plays to cover 87 yards and score on their next possession. Drevion Cooper rushed for a 20-yard gain on first down, then Curry Parham completed a 33-yard pass to Zach Johnson. Keith Thomas picked up 29 yards on the ground to put the Bluejays at the Spire 5-yard line, and Joe Donnell crossed the goal-line from there. Slavens’ kick made it 17-7 with 3:48 left in the half.

The Spires kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired in the half, bringing the score at intermission to 17-10 in favor of Tabor.

Tabor’s defense shut out the Spires in the second half. Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the period ended with Tabor in the red zone. Ontre’Von Cooper capped a 10-play, 95-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run four plays into the final quarter, extending Tabor’s lead to 24-10.

Late in the game, Matthew Chilo intercepted a Spire pass, setting up a 22-yard touchdown run by Cody Coleman two plays later. Slavens’ kick extended it to the final, 31-10 margin, with 56 seconds left on the clock.

Tabor rolled up 363 yards of offense, compared to 224 for Saint Mary. The Bluejays rushed for 235 yards, led by Thomas with six carries for 61 yards. Eleven Bluejays recorded a carry. Through the air, Parham was 6-for-13 for 75 yards. Thomas was 3-for-3 for 53 yards. Johnson hauled in three receptions for 87 yards. Alex Neuschafer led the defensive effort with 14 tackles, including one tackle for a loss.

“We scored points, and we made some big plays, but I didn’t ever feel like we were in a rhythm today,” coach Mike Gardner said. “I expect us to be a little bit better next week in that area.

“Defensively, I was really pleased with how we made our adjustments to try to take away what those guys were trying to do, and we were able to accomplish that.”

Coming—Tabor (2-0, 2-1) will host 18th-ranked Sterling (1-1, 2-1) Saturday at 7 p.m. The Warriors lost to Friends Sunday, 42-38.

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