Tabor Hammered by Sterling at home

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A Bluejays defensive back delivers a shot to Sterling?s Johnell Murphy early in the third quarter of Tabor?s 54-19 loss to the Warriors Saturday. Murphy held onto the ball for a touchdown. Andrew Ottoson / Free Press<p>

Tabor College was blown out by Sterling 54-19 at Reimer Field Saturday, allowing 530 yards of total offense, 330 of which came on the ground.

?The defense gave up too many big plays and had numerous assignment break downs,? Gottsch said. ?We must get mentally tougher and lock in on assignments.

?We were not very physical against their option attack,? he added. ?I hope this improves this week.?

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Tabor quarterback Marc Amos looks to pass against Sterling. Amos completed his throw to Phillip Robben. Phyllis Richert photo.

The Sterling attack could not overshadow another fine performance by the Bluejays? standout running back Demetrius Cox, who logged 171 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Cox broke touchdown runs of 50 and 52 yards, the second of which demonstrated both his breakaway speed in the open field and his raw power in traffic?evidenced by a quartet of broken tackles as he powered through the line of scrimmage.

Cox did his part from the opening snap, appearing to have evened the score with a 52-yard breakaway jaunt on a toss sweep to the left side after Sterling took a 7-0 lead.

But the extra point was blocked and returned for a safety by the Warriors, putting Tabor in a 9-6 hole from which they would not recover.

Cox?s brilliant day was stripped of some of its luster by strange officiating.

Sterling was flagged eight times for 59 yards during the game, compared to four fouls for 39 yards assessed against Tabor. But while the final stats indicate a slight advantage for the Bluejays in the category, two uncalled fouls decided the game.

After Cox scored, officials allowed a 54-yard option run on Sterling?s next series to stand?in spite of a false start.

Instead, Sterling went up 16-6. Officials then ruled that an offensive pass interference penalty had not been committed by Carlos de los Reyes, who played through Bluejay cornerback Sean Retting to catch a 67-yard touchdown on the fifth play of the second quarter.

Retting had stopped on a dime to establish his position to make a play on a long, high throw by Degenhardt, but mis-timed his jump slightly. Instead of picking off the pass, Retting was knocked to the ground by de los Reyes, who made the catch and bolted into the end zone for a 24-6 Sterling lead.

Tabor answered again on the next drive, as Thomas Quist broke loose on the kickoff return to set up an eight-yard pass play from Marc Amos to Spencer Brown, cutting the bulge to 24-13 with 8:14 to go in the first half.

But just when it looked like the Bluejay defense was rallying in support of the offense, officials flagged Tabor cornerback Mario Wokocha for interfering with the receiver on an incomplete pass on second-and-16.

Matching the Sterling receiver stride-for-stride down the right sideline, Wokocha and the wide receiver both turned to the inside when the ball was thrown their way. Wokocha did collide with the wideout as they both attempted to make a play on the ball, which was thrown high and to the outside.

But instead of what should probably have been third-and-16 after what looked like either an ordinary incompletion or an overthrow resulting from miscommunication between quarterback and receiver, Sterling was given a first-and-10 at the Tabor 32.

Six plays later, Degenhardt scored on an option run for a 31-13 Sterling lead, and the rout was on.

Combined with the unfavorable officiating, the Warriors offense simply overwhelmed the Bluejay defense, scoring 2:24 into the third quarter and again 4:18 later.

With his team trailing 44-13, Cox broke off his second touchdown run, and Tabor, perhaps wary of turning to its kicking game, went for two.

?Our punting game got better,? Gottsch said. ?Our snapping, protection and coverage all improved (compared to last week). But our PAT and field goal team must improve this week. It cost us momentum and points.?

The 2-point conversion try was no good, and Sterling again seized the momentum. On the drive, Sterling generated 114 yards of offense to overcome 34 yards worth of penalties. The Warriors capped the eight-play 80-yard series with a six-yard run by Johnell Murphy, making it 51-19 with 10:06 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Marc Amos had an effective day in his first start in place of the injured Jason Aubrey.

?We had several scoring opportunities in the redzone that we did not capitalize on, and we must improve on this next week,? Gottsch said. ?(Amos) as freshman quarterback did a credible job, completing 55 percent of his passes.?

Amos went 10-for-18 with his passing, notching one touchdown and one interception in addition to multiple deep completions, the longest of which went 37 yards to Philip Robben. Brown?s touchdown was his only catch of the day.

Coming?Tabor (0-2) travels to Goodwell, Okla., next weekend, where the Bluejays will meet Oklahoma Panhandle State in a rematch of Tabor?s 49-28 nonconference win last season.

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