Tabor rolls past McPherson, 47-19

Charles Beale returns a McPherson punt 55 yards to the Bulldog 1-yard line. Tabor’s ensuing touchdown increased the Bluejays’ lead to 20-0 during the second quarter Saturday. Tabor took advantage of a short field multiple times on a windy day when field position became crucial.The 16th-ranked Tabor College football team defeated McPherson, 47-19, Saturday on senior day.

With a strong wind out of the south, field position became critical, and the Bluejays took advantage of a short field on a number of occasions.

Neither team scored in the first quarter, although Tabor threw an interception on the goal line on its second possession of the game.

However, to start the second quarter, Alex Neuschafer forced and recovered a Bulldog fumble to put Tabor at the McPherson 14-yard line. Tabor scored in three plays. Jonah McKee’s 3-yard touchdown run gave the Bluejays a 7-0 lead after Jared Slavens’ extra-point kick.

On McPherson’s next possession, the Bluejay defense recorded two sacks in four plays—courtesy of Maurice Payne and Evan Sprayberry—forcing McPherson to punt into the wind. The kick traveled 11 yards, giving Tabor favorable field position at the McPherson 33. Curry Parham completed a 21-yard pass to McKee on the sixth play of the drive, and Keith Thomas crossed the goal-line two plays later, extending Tabor’s lead to 14-0.

After a Bulldog three-and-out, Charles Beale returned the punt 55 yards to the McPherson 1-yard line. A false start penalty pushed Tabor back, but Ontre’Von Cooper rushed for a 2-yard score on the third play of the drive to extend Tabor’s lead, 20-0.

Each team scored once after that. McPherson got on the board with a 9-yard touchdown pass with 55 seconds left in the half. But after a 34-yard kickoff return by Zack Johnson, Tabor needed three plays to cover 48 yards. Drevion Cooper rushed for a 24-yard touchdown with 20 seconds to play, and Tabor’s 26-7 lead held through halftime.

Tabor added a touchdown on its first possession after intermission. Skylar Valencia caught a 37-yard pass from Parham three plays in, and Thomas rushed for a 12-yard touchdown on the 10th play of the drive. That extended Tabor’s lead to 33-7, which held through the end of the quarter.

The teams traded touchdowns on the first four possessions of the fourth quarter.

McPherson managed a 30-yard touchdown pass just 2:01 into the period, but Tabor responded with a six-play, 47-yard drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Joseph Donnell. That made it 40-13 with 10:53 to play.

McPherson’s next drive was keyed by a 46-yard quarterback keeper that put the Bulldogs in the red zone. A 1-yard touchdown run two plays later made it 40-19. Adrian Brown intercepted the two-point conversion pass attempt.

Tabor scored its final touchdown on a 2-yard run by Parham with 5:00 to play, bringing it to the final, 47-19 spread.

“Our offense was able to take advantage of a lot of things that they were trying to do, and our kids just lined up and played well,” coach Mike Gardner said. “It was nice to come away with a win.”

The Bluejays recorded 455 yards of offense, compared with 255 for McPherson.

Tabor rushed for 365 yards, led by Drevion Cooper with six carries for 74 yards and one touchdown. Eleven Bluejays had at least one carry. Through the air, Parham was 7-for-9 for 84 yards. Thomas was 1-for-5 for 6 yards. Skylar Valencia caught three passes for 43 yards.

Coming—Tabor (6-1, 6-2), who ranks 13th nationally, will travel to Bethany (1-6, 1-8) Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game.

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