The Tabor College football team had no answers for No. 10 Ottawa Saturday in Hillsboro. The Bluejays were held scoreless until 2:02 of the third quarter, when Marquis Lawrence broke through with a 3-yard run. The tally made it 65-6, and Ottawa tacked on two more touchdowns for a 79-6 final score.
The big win helped the Braves move up to No. 9 the NAIA coaches poll.
?Ottawa is a national power and they proved why,? Bluejays coach Mike Gottsch said. ?They were solid in all phases of the game. It all starts up front and this is where they win games.?
?Their quarterback is one of the best small college quarterbacks I’ve seen play,? he added. ?As a junior he was voted offensive MVP of the conference. Thank goodness he is a senior.?
Tabor?s passing offense had considerable difficulty, as its receivers struggled to find space in the Ottawa secondary and the Bluejays quarterbacks faced a consistent and overwhelming rush on every throw.
?Our offense must produce early to be successful and we must become more efficient at converting on third down,? Gottsch said. ?Defensively we gave up too many big plays?we must limit great teams in this area. As always, we will learn from the tape.?
The Braves defense, operating with a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, caused particular havoc on one series in the first quarter. The trouble began with Seth Homolka sacking Marc Amos on first down. Then Jarvis Morehead-Reed dropped Lawrence for a short gain on second down. The Braves? pass-rush forced an incompletion on third down, and Tabor lined up to punt from its own 34.
The special teams unit self-destructed and punter Steven Gulledge, running for his life in along the goal line, was left with no option but to boot the ball out of the back of the end zone. The play resulted in a safety, but would certainly have turned into an Ottawa touchdown if not for Gulledge?s situational awareness.
?Our punter continues to be very consistent,? Gottsch said. Gulledge totaled 239 yards on six punts, including one 59-yard bomb in the third quarter.
In the end, it mattered little. Ottawa scored on its first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth drives of the first half while the Tabor offense sputtered to five first downs through two quarters, and totaled 13 in the game.
Tabor struggle to maintain possession even when the offense clicked, losing two fumbles and two interceptions. The Tabor defense did not force a turnover.
Bluejays starting running back Derek Washington was held out because of sickness.
?This was a good opportunity for (Marquis) to get some playing time,? Gottsch said. ?He did some positive things.?
Lawrence finished with 87 yards on 27 attempts, while Braves starter Andy Otto gashed the Bluejays for 115 yards on 13 carries, including three touchdowns. Ethan Haller threw four touchdowns for Ottawa?two to Corey Schultz as well as one to Otto and one to Clarence Anderson. Schultz totaled six catches for 135 yards.
Haller is the NAIA?s leading passer, with 9.5 yards per attempt and 15 yards per completion for an average of 424 yards per game. He totaled 354 yards with 17 completions on 26 attempts Saturday. Two of his throws were dropped and one was broken up by Bluejays senior safety Mario Nava.
Nava also forced a fumble, and recorded two tackles. Charles Urrutia led the Bluejays with 11 tackles (seven solo). He also deflected one of CJ Klug?s passes. Klug replaced Haller in the third quarter.
Coming?Tabor (0-5) travels to Sterling (2-3) next week. Friends beat Sterling 30-6 Saturday.