What does it take to defeat the 10th-ranked football team in the NAIA??
The 17th-ranked Tabor College Bluejays showed how it could be done Satur?day night, using an overpowering rushing game and tough defensive effort to defeat the visiting Pioneers, 21-13.
?Anytime you only give up one touchdown to a team that good, that?s pretty impressive I think,? coach Mike Gardner said.
Tabor pounded out 325 yards on the ground, led by senior James Monroe, who accounted for 171 yards on 37 carries.
?Unreal isn?t he?? Gard?ner said of Monroe. ?He?s a special player and just a special person, and I couldn?t be happier for him and his effort.?
MidAmerica managed 132 rushing yards, but out-passed Tabor 174-16.
Tabor cut short MidAmerica?s opening drive when Donnell Davis intercepted quarterback Trent Hedlund?s third-down pass.
The Bluejays capitalized when Monroe scored a 7-yard touchdown four plays later. Jared Slavens? kick made it 7-0 with 11:24 left in the opening period.
MidAmerica answered with a scoring drive that lasted into the second quarter. The Pioneers covered 69 yards in 15 plays, scoring on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Hedlund to LaDon Hudson. Michael Brewer?s kick tied the game at 7-7 with 8:57 left in the half.
After a Tabor punt, the Pioneers managed a go-ahead score on a 30-yard field goal.
When Tabor couldn?t answer, MidAmerica added a second field goal, this one from 29 yards out, to boost its lead to 13-7 at intermission.
Tabor?s opening drive of the second half ended when McKee was sacked on fourth-and-15. But the Tabor defense then stopped the Pioneers on a fourth-and-6 at the Tabor 15-yard line when a 32-yard field goal attempt missed wide left.
Tabor went back to work, covering 80 yards in six plays and finding the end zone when Monroe scored from 5 yards out. Slavens? kick gave Tabor a 14-13 lead with 5:01 left in the third quarter.
After the teams traded punts, the Tabor defense stopped the Pioneers after they failed to convert on a fake punt on fourth-and-5.
That led to Tabor?s winning scoring drive. The Bluejays pounded out 51 yards on five running plays. McKee found the end zone on a 22-yard quarterback keeper. Slavens? kick gave Tabor a 21-13 lead with 11:05 to play.
MidAmerica then advanced the ball to the Tabor 7-yard line, but the Pioneers hit a brick wall as the Bluejay defense once again held to bring up fourth-and-goal. The ensuing Pioneer 24-yard field goal attempt missed wide left, and Tabor took over.
Staying on the ground, Monroe and the Bluejays pounded out yardage while running 7:40 off the clock. McKee took a knee on fourth-and-2, giving the ball back to MidAmerica at the Pioneer 23-yard line with just 4 seconds remaining.
When two MidAmer?ica passes fell incomplete, Tabor celebrated the victory and the Pioneers? first 0-1 start since 2006.
?When the clock expired, my first reaction was, ?Wow it?s finally over,?? Gardner said. ?I just think we did a tremendous job with our clock management at the end of this game. Our offensive line (and) our offense took it over.?
Coming?With the win, the Bluejays improved to 2-0 on the season and moved to No. 10 in the NAIA Football Coaches? Top 25 Poll released Monday. MidAmer?ica dropped to No. 15.
Tabor will host their first KCAC opponent, University of Saint Mary (1-1), Saturday at 7 p.m.