After struggling to put points on the board in last week?s 27-6 loss at Southwestern, the Tabor College football team responded in a big way. The 11th-ranked Bluejays provided more than enough offense in a 70-35 blowout at Kansas Wesleyan Saturday.
?(Kansas Wesleyan) had the No. 1 offense coming into this game in the conference, I think, and (we held) them to 35 (points),? coach Mike Gardner said. ?They do what they do for a reason, and they go really fast, and I just was really pleased with how we were able to play.?
Bluejay fans saw a new quarterback under center. In his first collegiate start, freshman Jordan Bernhardy made his presence known with a record-setting performance which earned him KCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
As Tabor?s leading rusher with 15 carries for 171 yards, Bernhardy scored six rushing touchdowns, besting Tabor?s record for rushing touchdowns by one. Through the air, Bernhardy completed five of 11 attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He holds single-game records for touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and total points scored.
Tabor rolled up 657 yards of total offense, just 36 yards shy of tying another record. Tabor rushed for 517 yards. In addition to Bernhardy, Cody Coleman also surpassed the century-mark with 10 carries for 149 yards and two scores.
Kansas Wesleyan, meanwhile, tallied 450 yards of offense, including 363 passing and 87 rushing.
Gardner praised the efforts of his young quarterback, but also attributed the change in offensive production to a mindset shift.
?I?d say the change for that was an attitude shift in how we were going to be aggressive,? he said. ?Jordan did a really good job. There?s no doubt about it, but again, it?s one game, and we can?t take anybody or anything for granted. We?ve just got to keep moving on. Just really pleased with how things went.?
Tabor set the tone early by scoring on the game?s opening drive. A 76-yard kickoff return by Brandon Johnson put Tabor at the Coyote 12-yard line, and the Bluejays found the end zone in four plays, scoring on a 3-yard keeper by Bernhardy. Jared Slavens kicked the first of his 10 extra points for a 7-0 lead just 1:40 into the game.
Following back-to-back punts, the Coyotes evened the score with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Jake Curran to Mitch Kufahl on the first play of the drive. The extra-point kick tied the game at the 9:17 mark.
Two minutes later, Tabor struck again. A 35-yard run by Jonah McKee put Tabor at the Coyote 15, and four plays later, Coleman ran 7 yards for the score, making it 14-7 Tabor.
Tabor added a touchdown on a 2-yard Bernhardy run seven plays into the drive, then KWU fired back with an 8-play scoring drive capped by an 11-yard Curran touchdown pass to John Lewis with 17 seconds left. With just seconds remaining in the first quarter, Bernhardy threw a 62-yard touchdown strike to Coleman, increasing Tabor?s lead to 28-14 at the end of the first quarter.
After a Coyote three-and-out to start the second quarter?the drive included a sack by Derrick Lawrence, who finished with a game-high 41?2 on the day?Tabor scored on three consecutive drives.
Bernhardy completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Gill, capping a seven-play, 66-yard drive. On the first play of Tabor?s next drive, Bernhardy ran 84 yards for a touchdown. Bernhardy scored again three plays into the ensuing Bluejay drive, this time on a 25-yard run that put Tabor in front 49-14.
The Coyotes responded by marching 65 yards in 11 plays and scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Curran to Lewis, bringing the Coyotes within 49-21. That score held until halftime.
Each team added a touchdown and extra-point kick in the third period. Tabor covered 71 yards in 11 plays on its first drive and cashed in on a 1-yard Bernhardy run. Kansas Wesleyan added a score with 1:27 left when Taylor Sachs ran in from 1 yard out, making it 56-28 heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter began with Tabor on the move, and Bernhardy was in the end zone three plays in for a 16-yard score. Tabor?s final score of the night came with 9:52 left in the game when Coleman scored on a 37-yard run for a 70-28 Tabor margin.
Kansas Wesleyan added one last score on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Curran to Lewis with 6:48 to go, bringing it to the final, 70-35 margin.
The Tabor defense punished Kansas Wesleyan all afternoon, recording 12 sacks and 18 tackles for loss, both conference highs.
?I thought our defensive line played well,? Gardner said. ?I also thought that our coverage?even though we gave up some yards and some scores?was pretty decent at times, which allowed our defensive line to get (to the quarterback), and they did a good job.?
Despite some impressive numbers from his team, Gardner was quick to keep the game in perspective.
?We?ve got a long way to go,? he said. ?We?ve got a long season left. Friends is coming in next week. I?m not going to dwell on this thing too much.?
Coming?No. 10 Tabor (3-1, 5-1) will host Friends (3-1, 4-2) for homecoming Saturday at 2 p.m.