Bluejays win opener, 36-0

Tabor quarterback Simon McKee scrambles while looking for an open receiver during the third quarter Saturday. McKee, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, returned to lead the Bluejays to a 36-0 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan in the season-opener. McKee led the team in rushing with 91 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Through the air, he completed eight of 12 passes for 119 yards and a scoreThe Tabor College football team opened the 2014 season with a successful and well-rounded performance, as the Bluejays drummed visiting Nebraska Wesleyan, 36-0.
Leading Tabor?s powerful offensive attack?which rolled up 516 yards of total offense, compared with only 188 for NWU?was Bluejay quarterback Simon McKee, who missed most of last season with a knee injury.
?(Simon?s) a competitor,? coach Mike Gardner said. ?Some people are just created to do certain things, and he is definitely one of those kids that has that gift.
?He not only has the passion to do it and the talent to do it, but he has the ability to do it. He?s just somebody that I?m really, really blessed to have on my team.?
McKee, who was named KCAC Offensive Player of the Week, led the team in rushing as well as passing, running for 91 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and completing eight of 12 passes for 119 yards and a score. The Bluejays tallied 397 rushing yards in all.
NWU, meanwhile, managed 151 passing yards and 37 rushing yards.
Defensively, Tabor was led by Donnell Davis with six solo tackles and Shawn Johnston with two sacks.
The Bluejay defense, despite giving up some big plays, gave Gardner reason for praise.
?We got into a rhythm with our coverage checks,? he said. ?We just checked the right coverages, and our kids got to where they needed to be. We bent but we didn?t break. (NWU) tried two field goals and missed them both and that was it.?
At the start, Tabor held the Prairie Wolves to a field goal attempt from the Bluejay 11-yard line on the game?s opening drive. The kick hit the left upright and bounced away.
After a Tabor punt on its opening drive, Matt McElroy intercepted NWU quarterback Tyler Francis five plays later. D?Marco Smith scored from a yard out to cap a five-play, 28-yard drive. Jared Slavens? kick made it 7-0 with 8:15 left in the quarter.
The Bluejays found the end zone again at the end of the first quarter on a 29-yard strike from McKee to Cody Coleman. The drive covered 88 yards in 13 plays. Slavens? kick was no good for a 13-0 Tabor lead.
After the teams traded punts, the Prairie Wolves advanced to the Tabor 8-yard line, but the Bluejay defense held, and a second NWU field-goal attempt missed the mark.
The Bluejays, however, scored on their next two possessions. Tabor cashed in on a quick score thanks to a 39-yard run by Owen Cole that set up a 41-yard touchdown dash by Coleman. Slavens? kick missed, but Tabor led 19-0.
The Bluejays extended the lead to 22-0 on a 29-yard field goal by Slavens, a margin that held to halftime.
After intermission, Donnell Davis forced and recovered a fumble on a Tabor punt to put the ball back in the hands of the Bluejays. Four plays later, McKee was in the end zone on an 8-yard keeper. Slavens? kick made it 29-0.
The Bluejays added a final touchdown on their next possession when Ben Bebermeyer ran in from 18 yards out. Slavens? kick made it 36-0, with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
That capped scoring for the day. The Prairie Wolves netted only 12 yards of offense in the final quarter, while Tabor drained the clock to nail down the win.
?For the last two years we?ve been fortunate enough to play eight quarters of touchdown-less football against Nebraska Wes?leyan,? Gardner said. ?They kicked three field goals last year.?
The Bluejays defeated the Prairie Wolves 10-9 in last season?s opener.
Coming?Saturday?s game will be a matchup of two nationally ranked teams.
Tabor, who ranks eighth in the NAIA preseason poll, will travel to No. 7 Missouri Valley College Saturday for a 6 p.m. game in what will be the Vikings? season-opener.

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