Bulldogs climb to 15th with win over Jays

TCfbGulledgeTD838.jpg
TCfbGulledgeTD838.jpg

Stephen Gulledge turned a botched snap on a field goal into the touchdown run pictured above. Earlier, he nailed a 50-yard kick.

The Tabor College football team fell to McPherson by a final score of 43-10 Saturday in Hillsboro.

The Bulldogs came into Joel H. Wiens Stadium with both a No. 16 national rank to prove and a share of second place in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference to defend.

And defend they did?and raised their rank in Monday?s national poll to No. 15 to boot.

Bluejays kicker Stephen Gulledge scored all 10 of Tabor's points: he drilled a 50-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead, turned a broken play on a field goal attempt into a short touchdown run and hit the point after.

For McPherson, the win was both personal and a matter of redemption; the Bulldogs blew a 19-0 lead during Tabor?s 23-19 upset victory last year.

But while McPherson was less than crisp?the Bulldogs were flagged for 155 penalty yards?the Bluejays were unable to keep up with McPherson's prodigious offense despite forcing three turnovers and limiting the Bulldogs? time of possession to under 25 minutes.

McPherson quarterback Shane Mascarenas completed 19 passes for 399 yards and five touchdowns, but also lost a fumble and had two of his 31 attempts intercepted.

Mascarenas washed his hands of the giveaways with long touchdown passes on the second play of the second quarter and the first play of the third quarter. In chronological order, his touchdowns throws went as follows: a 53-yard strike to Andy Skinner; a 36-yarder to Stephen Harrison; a 6-yarder to Harrison capping a 13-play, 87-yard series; a 69-yarder to Skinner; and a 13-yarder to Skinner with 10:32 left in the third quarter.

Tabor scored its lone touchdown just before halftime.

Gulledge scooped up a live ball after the snap failed to connect with the holder; he sprinted to his right and found a lane down the sideline opened by a number of effective blocks, and beat the defensive pursuit to the corner pylon. His subsequent kick cut McPherson's lead to 21-10 leading into halftime.

?Our players came out ready to play,? coach Mike Gottsch said. ?It was great to see our team fight from the start. The halftime score indicates our guys are not finished playing.?

Tabor was held scoreless in the second half.

?The third quarter was our demise, we really needed to win that quarter to make the game interesting in the end,? Gottsch said. ?To win the game we knew we had to not give up the big plays, and our offense could not afford any turnovers. Our team knows we have two winnable games remaining and they are determined to finish strong.?

All told, McPherson put up 587 yards of offense?454 through the air. Harrison totaled eight catches for 144 yards and Skinner totaled six catches for 166 yards.

Tabor's offense put up 199 yards, but was severely hampered by a running game that totaled two yards on 21 carries in the second half, and netted 81 rushing yards on 42 carries in the contest.

The Bluejays? top receiving threat, Daniel Jost, caught one pass for 10 yards before heading to the sidelines with an injury.

?The loss of Jost on the third play of the game really hurt us offensively but other receivers stepped up, especially Spencer Brown,? Gottsch said.

Brown caught six passes for 79 yards, with a long of 25.

A 31-yard run by Zeb Petty was Tabor's biggest offensive play in the second half, while Derek Washington averaged 5.6 yards per carry in the first half.

The rest of Tabor?s highlights were defensive: a 29-yard interception return by Charles Urrutia, an interception and a forced fumble by Chris Sanborn, and a fumble recovery by David Quarker. Six Bluejays had four or more tackles. Joaquim Haywood recorded eight solo tackles, while Teal Stutzman had five solo and one assisted.

Coming?The Bluejays (0-7 KCAC, 0-8 overall) play at Southwestern (2-5, 2-6) next Saturday. Southwestern beat Bethel 21-20 this week.

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