The Tabor Bluejays could not hang on to the game against conference opponent Ottawa any more than they could hang on to the ball in Saturday?s 37-10 loss.
Interceptions and fumbles at key moments plagued Tabor all night long. At first it seemed turnovers would favor the Blue?jays after Spencer Brown intercepted a Braves pass near his own end zone with eight minutes left.
But Ottawa intercepted Blue?jay quarterback Tim Rozzell on the next play, paving the way for a Braves touchdown at 7:22 to give them a 7-0 lead.
With 9:21 left, Ottawa?s Donald Anderson snagged another interception, stalling Tabor?s drive at the Braves? 10-yard line. Ottawa broke free for a long run to Tabor?s 30, then ran in for a touchdown with 4:31 left in the second quarter.
The Bluejays drove down the field again but turned over the ball on a fumble on their own 25 yard line with 3:40 left in the half.
Brown and teammate Donnell Davis saved the touchdown by breaking up Ottawa?s third-down pass in the end zone, but it was not enough to prevent the Braves from kicking a field goal, making the score 17-0.
Ottawa again crushed Tabor?s hopes of scoring before the half with an interception at Ottawa?s 29-yard line with 15 seconds left in the half.
Tabor finally got points on the board in the third quarter when the Bluejays blocked an Ottawa kick at 12:38 to gain possession of the ball.
With nine minutes left Aziz Spellman-Smith hauled in a long pass. The Bluejays could not get into the end zone and had to settle for a field goal to make it 17-3.
With 6:11 left in the quarter. Ottawa strung together two long runs for another touchdown and a 24-3 lead.
The Bluejays lost a fumble on their own 34-yard line with 1:41 left in the third quarter. Ottawa prepared to kick a field goal, but Davis blocked it to keep the Braves from scoring.
But Ottawa?s Anderson picked up another interception on the first play of the fourth quarter on Tabor?s 40-yard line, setting up a touchdown on a screen pass from Clarence Anderson with 13:37 left to play.
The extra point bounced off the uprights, making it 30-3.
Ottawa tacked on another touchdown with 9:07 left in the game for a 37-3 lead.
With just 3:31 remaining, Brandon Johnson blocked an Ottawa punt, allowing the Bluejays to run the ball in for their only touchdown of the game.
The extra point was good, making the final score 37-10.
?I really believe we did a really great job on our special teams tonight,? Gardner said. ?I think sooner or later we?re going to get it figured out on offense, and when we do we?re going to be successful.?
To improve their offense, Gardner said his quarterback needs to get the ball into the hands of players who can make things happen, like Spellman-Smith and Duray Gardener.
?It?s just really frustrating and hard when you have some players and you can?t get the ball in their hands,? he said.
Coach Gardner said on the defensive end, he thought his team played as well as possible considering the circumstances.
?You cannot ask a group of guys to keep going out time and time again,? he said. ?They?re just eventually going to wear out.?
The Braves had nearly twice the time of possession as Tabor and logged 473 all-purpose yards to the Bluejays? 266.
More telling, though, was Ottawa?s four interceptions, three of which set up touchdowns for the Braves, and two fumble recoveries, one of which translated into points for Ottawa.
The other fumble set up the field goal Tabor blocked.
?Those guys hit pretty hard,? Gardner said. ?I think a lot of it goes back to, we quick-whistle in practice and when you do that, you have the tendency to be a bit lax with the football.
?We?re going to do everything we can to shore it up.?
Coming?The Bluejays (1-4, 0-3 KCAC) are scheduled to play at Kansas Wesleyan (1-3, 1-2) Saturday.