But despite the lopsided score against a Moundbuilder team still seeking its first win, the game left coach Mike Gardner seeking consistency from his team. The Bluejays scored 21 unanswered points in the first quarter but did not score any in the second. Gardner said gaining the early, three-touchdown lead may have contributed to the Bluejays’ complacency.
“The problem is, it puts your team at ease, and we had the worst second quarter ever,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to do what we want to do if we play complacent like that.
“We came out in the second half and it was a little bit better, but when you have as many guys that can make plays on offense as we have, you just expect more consistency from them.”
Tabor scored on the game’s opening drive when Curry Parham completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Zach Johnson—the first of three touchdowns for the pair—to cap a 10-play, 63-yard drive. Jared Slavens added the extra-point kick to give the Bluejays the lead, 7-0, at the 11:23 mark.
During Tabor’s next possession, Parham completed a 44-yard pass to Darius Stallworth to put the Bluejays on the Moundbuilder 9-yard line, and Parham crossed the goal-line two plays later for a 5-yard score. Slavens’ kick made it 14-0 with 6:21 left in the opening quarter.
When Southwestern fumbled the ball away on first down, Tabor took over at the Moundbuilder 20-yard line, and the Bluejays needed one play to score. Ontre’Von Cooper ran for the touchdown to extend Tabor’s lead to 21-0, which held through the end of the first quarter.
Tabor’s second-quarter possessions ended with a punt, a missed field goal, a lost fumble on a punt return, a pair of punts and the end of the half.
Southwestern, meanwhile, put its first points on the board with 12 seconds left in the half thanks to a 3-yard touchdown pass, narrowing Tabor’s lead to 21-7 at halftime.
Tabor added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter. The Bluejays fumbled the ball away in the red zone on their first possession, but Maurice Payne cut Southwestern’s ensuing drive short with an interception. Tabor capitalized, covering 51 yards in six plays and scoring on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Parham to Johnson to extend the lead, 28-7.
Parham connected with Johnson for a 46-yard score with 16 seconds left in the period to make it 35-7 heading into the final quarter.
Southwestern narrowed the gap to 35-14 with a 6-yard touchdown pass with 10:15 to play, and Tabor added a final score with 3:20 remaining when Skylar Valencia hauled in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Parham to cap a five-play, 47-yard drive.
Kaleb Neuschafer intercepted a Moundbuilder pass, allowing Tabor to run out the final 1:19.
“I’m really pleased with how our offense is, and I’m pleased with the production that we have,” Gardner said. “I’d like to just see us playing against one opponent and not ourselves.”
Gardner attributed the third-quarter turnaround to his playmakers, favorable field position and having one quarterback under center.
“We played Curry (in) the second half, and there was more of a chemistry there by not going with two quarterbacks in the second half,” he said. “That’s something that I felt like was important for us to do.”
Tabor recorded 504 yards of offense, compared to 292 for Southwestern. The Bluejays rushed for 256 yards, led by Cody Coleman with four carries for 68 yards.
Through the air, Parham was 13-for-19 for 248 yards and four touchdowns. Johnson was Parham’s top target—he hauled in seven receptions for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Michael Griffin led the defense with six tackles, including two tackles for a loss. Gardner said Tabor has been ridden with injuries, especially on defense.
Coming—Tabor (4-0, 4-1) will travel to 14th-ranked Kansas Wesleyan (3-1, 5-1) Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game. The Coyotes defeated Friends, 45-42, Saturday. Their only defeat was a Sept. 17 loss to Sterling.