Braves’ new world


Demetrius Cox shoves a defender out of his way on Tabor?s first play Saturday night at Ottawa. Cox tore through a seam opened by his offensive line and rumbled 29 yards. It ended up being the Bluejays? biggest gain of the night.

Ottawa, hosting the Tabor College football team in the opening week of KCAC competition, hammered the Bluejays 52-6 on a rainy night.

Trailing 42-6 late in the first half, the Bluejays suffered what may turn out to be an even greater loss when senior quarterback Jason Aubrey was knocked out of the game by an Ottawa defensive back who delivered an unnecessary blow to his head several yards out of bounds.

?It was an unnecessary, uncalled for shot,? head coach Mike Gottsch said. ?The same guy was penalized again in the second half, and had a third one that was not called.?

Aubrey lost consciousness on the play and was diagnosed with a concussion serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital for additional tests.

Gottsch said Aubrey?s return to the lineup is questionable.

?It?s what put him out last year, and now another one?I would say it?s season-threatening, but I?m not going to make the call on that,? the second-year coach said. ?I?ll let his doctor and family make that decision.?

Aubrey is unlikely to suit up for Saturday?s game against Sterling.

The Braves dominated the early going, jumping to a 33-0 lead as quarterback Ethan Haller orchestrated five touchdown drives during Ottawa?s first five possessions.

Haller threw for four scores and ran for a fifth before being pulled from the game after Aubrey was injured.

One bright spot for Tabor was the play of Teal Stutzman, who recorded 11 tackles in a solid debut at linebacker. Gottsch cited Stutzman and Kyle Basinger for their strong play.

?Both our inside linebackers played well,? Gottsch said. ?What I like to see is these guys playing downhill. For a sophomore making his first start, Teal did physically what we were hoping he would.?

Stutzman?s laundry list of plays included an unassisted dumping of running back Robbie Dubois for a loss that nearly killed Ottawa?s second drive of the night.

Leading 7-0 but facing third-and-13 after Stutzman stopped Dubois in the backfield, Haller found Taylor Burnett open in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 5:38 left in the first quarter.

Ottawa went on to outscore Tabor 27-0 in the opening period.

Another bright spot for the Bluejays was the play of Demetrius Cox, who ripped a 30-yard run on Tabor’?s first play from scrimmage and scored his team?s first and only points on a 20-yard dash 2:41 into the second quarter.

?He?s a great team leader,? Gottsch said. ?He prepared himself really well for this season. On those two plays?not that we did anything fabulous up front?the assignments were carried out pretty well, where our line blocked well and our fullback blocked well.

?And he runs extremely hard,? he added. ?He?s going to have fun this year.?

The score was set up by a rapid succession of well-executed plays: a 28-yard kick return by Derek Washington started the Bluejay drive near midfield, and 28-yard run by fullback Seth Ramsey made it first-and-10 from the 19-yard line.

Cox broke loose and scored two plays later. A 2-point conversion try failed and the Bluejays trailed 33-6.

For a few minutes after Cox?s touchdown, the rain stopped; Nick Brown forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but an unlucky bounce kept possession with the Braves. Then the Bluejay defense forced Ottawa?s first punt.

But the punt pinned Tabor inside its own 10-yard line, setting up a safety that made it 35-6.

?We?ve got four guys on the offensive line who have never played together in our system,? Gottsch said. ?We have to get better with our communication and assignments and techniques.?

After the safety, the rain started falling again, and Ottawa scored on the ensuing possession. Then came Aubrey?s injury?and then, mercifully, came halftime.

The Bluejay defense found its feet during the intermission and limited Ottawa to 140 yards and 10 points in the second half?the bulk of which came on a 52-yard connection between senior quarterback Kevin Mikeska and junior wideout Zach Schultz.

Later in the third quarter, Stutzman recorded four tackles during a stretch of six plays, contributing greatly to a play-for-pride defensive stand that ground an Ottawa drive to a halt and forced another of the Braves four punts on the night.

But without Aubrey, the Bluejay offense never found a consistent rhythm.

In the third quarter, Ottawa was flagged for two more blatant unnecessary-roughness penalties during a three-play stretch that saw Cox limp from the game.

Cox returned briefly in the fourth quarter?just long enough to rip off one more 10-yard run before shutting his legs down for the night. He finished with 89 yards on 18 carries?nearly five yards per try.

The Bluejays totaled just 131 yards of offense. The Braves, meanwhile, were penalized 13 times for 129 yards.

Coming?Tabor (0-1) hosts Sterling (0-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The Bluejays will be broadcasting the game via Internet at http://tabor .edu/athletics/teams/football/

Sterling lost its opener to conference powerhouse Friends 33-7, with the Warriors? lone touchdown coming on a 75-yard kick return by Rashard Colquitt.

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