There was ?no fear in McPherson? Saturday afternoon as the NAIA No. 6 ranked Bulldogs defeated Tabor, 40-14.
?They?re ranked No. 6 in the country because they?re undefeated,? said coach Mike Gardner. ?When they have the opportunity to play somebody nationally, they?re going to find out how good they really are.?
The Bulldogs took an early lead, scoring on 32-yard by Travis Eason with 9:31 in the first and a touchdown run by Aaron Lafitte from 10 yards out to extend to 10-0 with 5 seconds left in the opening stanza.
Following a Bashieff Jones interception of Shane Mascarenas, Tabor had its first opportunity to score on a field-goal attempt by Aaron Annis. However, the kick was blocked and returned 74-yards by Austin Brown for a touchdown to put McPherson up 17-10 with 8:36 left in the first half.
On the ensuing kick off, McPher?son attempted an onside kick. Tabor?s Justin Vargas fell on the ball to give Tabor possession at the Bulldog 39.
Unable to pick up a first down, Tabor gave McPherson the ball back at its own 36. On fourth-and-2, Joey Erickson was dropped for a five-yard loss to turn the ball over on downs.
McPherson scored twice more to take a 30-0 lead into the half.
With a 1:07 to play in the half, Mascarenas found Andy Skinner for a 27-yard touchdown pass. On Tabor?s first play of the next possession, Erickson was intercepted by Stautus, who returned it to the Tabor 27.
Lafitte scored five plays later with a two-yard run seconds before the half.
McPherson then scored another 10 straight points to start the third quarter.
Wasting little time, the Bulldogs marched 75 yards in five plays, a big chunk coming from a 30-yard Mascarenas pass to Andy Skinner as McPherson moved to the Bluejay 39.
Chris German capped the drive with 24-yard touchdown run to give McPherson a 37-0 lead 2:13 into the third quarter.
McPherson?s final points came with 54 seconds to play in the third quarter on an Eason 47-yard field goal after a Bulldog drive that started at the McPherson 16 stalled at the Tabor 30-yard line.
Tabor scored the final two touchdowns. The first one was a three-yard run by Andrew Herard with 9:34 to play in the game. Joey Erickson crossed the goal line for the final score with a three-yard quarterback keeper.
Tabor had more success running the ball against a three-man front. James Monroe finished with 75 yards on 13 carries.
?James Monroe really showed some flashes of doing some really great things towards the end of the second half,? Gardner said.
Beating teams by an average of 30.25 points per game, McPherson is averaging 51 points per game.
Saturday?s total is the second-least points the Bulldogs have scored in a game this season. The lowest total was 31 at Sterling Oct. 2.
?I think we defensed them probably better than they have been all year,? said Gardner. ?I?m really proud of my guys for that.?
Tabor out-rushed McPherson, compiling 197 yards on 42 carries compared to the Bulldogs? 131 yards on 35 carries.
Coming?Tabor (2-5, 2-6) will end its season with games at home against two of the bottom four teams in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference standings.
Saturday, Tabor plays Southwestern (2-5, 2-6), who defeated Bethel 52-14 Saturday. Kickoff is at 1:30 from Joel H. Wiens.