The Tabor College football team suffered its first loss of the season in a contest decided by one point in overtime Saturday at Ster?ling.
With the game tied at 38 at the end of regulation, Tabor managed a touchdown and extra point to take a 45-38 lead. But Sterling answered with a touchdown and sealed the 46-45 victory with a 2-point conversion.
?I thought we played really, really well at times, and I thought we didn?t play really well at times,? coach Mike Gardner said. ?Sterling made one more play than we did. It was an exciting game, a good game. We just have to bounce back and move on.?
Sterling struck first on the second play of the game?a 49-yard touchdown run. But Tabor took a 10-7 lead by the end of the first quarter on a 37-yard field goal by Jared Slavens and a 57-yard touchdown run by Kaden Anderson.
The Bluejays turned the ball over twice in the second quarter and did not score. The Warriors, meanwhile, found the end zone twice to enjoy a 21-10 lead at halftime.
?I knew all we had to do was execute,? Gardner said. ?I was just anxious to see how we were going to come out in the second half and do that.?
Tabor came out of the locker room and scored on a 3-yard touchdown run by James Monroe, capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Slavens? kick narrowed Sterling?s lead to 21-17 with 11:23 left in the third quarter.
After the teams traded punts, Anthony Daniel cut Sterling?s drive short with an interception, but quarterback Simon McKee fumbled away the football back to the Warriors. A 36-yard field goal increased Sterling?s lead to 24-17.
The Bluejays got the ball back at the Sterling 37-yard line after a 62-yard return by Donnell Davis. But once again, a McKee fumble gave possession back to Sterling.
After the Warriors couldn?t capitalize, Tabor tied the game, 24-24, on a 27-yard touch?down run by Monroe with 12:03 left in the fourth quarter.
After Jason Daughtry intercepted a Sterling pass, Tabor claimed the lead on a 24-yard touchdown run by Monroe. With Slavens? kick, Tabor led 31-24 with 8:15 left in regulation.
The Warriors answered with a scoring drive to even the score at 31 with 5:33 left.
The Bluejay offense went back to work, and regained the lead on an 11-yard run by Monroe. It capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive that took 4:03. Slavens? kick made it 38-31 with 1:23 left in the game.
With just 15 seconds to play, Sterling tied the game, leading to the overtime.
A 7-yard run by McKee gave tabor a 45-38 lead after Slavens? kick. Sterling found the end zone on a 5-yard run, then opted to attempt the 2-point conversion. The pass was complete in the end zone, and the Sterling crowd erupted.
The Bluejays? five turn?overs contributed to the loss.
?You can?t do that consistently and be successful, but those are things we?ve got to work on and improve,? Gardner said. ?You can only play one opponent. You can?t play yourself and the other team. It doesn?t work.?
With the loss, Tabor dropped to 1-1 in the KCAC, 3-1 overall and are 15th in the NAIA Top 25 Poll released Monday. The Bluejays will host Southwestern (1-1, 2-2) Saturday at 2 p.m.