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Bluejays drop triple-OT thriller to Bethel

Fumble thwarts Tabor’s first win, 32-29

Sports writer

With seven straight losses, mistakes have been one of many downfalls that have haunted the Tabor College football team throughout the year.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching one in recent history came Saturday in the annual Menno Bowl between the hosting Bluejays and the struggling Bethel Threshers.

Needing either a touchdown or a field goal for their first win of the season in the second overtime, the Bluejays fumbled the ball away, and Chris Bloss recovered.

Bethel ended the game in three overtimes with Lee Voth-Gaeddert kicking the game-winning field goal to sink Tabor, 32-29.

The contest dropped the Bluejays to 0-7 on the year and 0-6 in the KCAC.

The Bluejays played arguably their best game of the year both offensively and defensively with Marc Amos throwing for a game-high 310 yards and three touchdowns — all to Chris Roddy.

Roddy had a season-high five catches for 120 yards.

Tabor struggled to get solid production on the ground, though, with Derek Washington carrying 22 times for a team-high 73 yards.

The Bluejays finished with 416 total yards, with only 106 coming on the ground from 38 carries.

The Threshers countered with 435 total, as former Goessel standout quarterback Garrett Hiebert was 21-for-39, throwing for 258 yards.

Hiebert got Bethel off to a fast start on the opening drive, directing a 12-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown to Lance Francis.

Washington got 27 of his 73 yards on Tabor’s first play of the game — 42 on the drive — giving the Bluejays excellent field position at the Thresher 33.

He carried three more times, giving the Bluejays a first-and-goal at the 10.

Amos tried for Tristan Burrows, but the Threshers kept Tabor from finishing the drive, limiting it to a 19-yard field goal by Stephen Gulledge to cut Tabor’s gap to 7-3.

The Bluejays pulled in front on their next drive, aided by Amos hitting Hillsboro’s Spencer Brown for a 23-yard gain to set up first-and-goal from the 6.Washington scored his only touchdown of the day, slipping in on second-and-goal for a 1-yard score.

Gulledge’s kick was no good, leaving the score at 9-7 with just under 10 minutes left in the first half.

Tabor’s defense was more than ready Saturday, sacking Hiebert three times with Clark Wozich getting him twice.

The Bluejays stretched their lead to 15-7 on the next drive with Amos going long for Washington on a 59-yard completion.

Amos finished the drive, hitting Roddy for the 21-yard touchdown.

PAT kicks continued to be a bitter pill for Tabor, as did protecting a lead as Gulledge was again off. Bethel cut the lead to 15-14 on the next drive with Jeremy Newhouse breaking loose for a 42-yard run.

Hiebert capped off the drive, scoring on a 1-yard keeper with 4:49 left before halftime.

The Threshers were in front by halftime though, with Tabor losing 22 yards on its next drive.

Bethel took advantage of a short field and Hiebert found Voth-Gaeddert for the go-ahead touchdown.

Jarrett Abell’s two-point conversion run left Tabor in a 22-15 all the way until the fourth quarter.

Another thing that’s plagued the Bluejays all year has been turnovers and four again Saturday made the going tough once more.

Half of Tabor’s four came in the third quarter alone. Luckily, its defense dashed Bethel extending the lead.

Adam Dirks bailed out the Bluejays of possibly falling further behind, sacking Hiebert on fourth down at the Tabor 16.

The Bluejays’ offense was stuck in neutral until there was 7:15 left in the game.

By then, the Threshers had gone up by two touchdowns with Tabor giving Bethel a boost on third-and-20 with a personal foul.

Hiebert hooked up with Kyle Berg for a 46-yard pass and two plays later, Abell put the Threshers on top, 29-15, scoring from the 1.

With the chance at a win slowly drifting away, the Bluejays finally got their offense back in gear on the next drive.

Amos had 62 yards, hitting Robert LeBeauf and Daniel Jost for 16- and 30-yard gains, respectively, pulling Tabor to the Thresher 20.

Amos again fired for Roddy, pulling the Bluejays to 29-21 with a 20-yard touchdown.

Gulledge was good on the PAT kick this time and Tabor was back in it, 29-22, with 4:33 left. Tabor’s defense held the Threshers to a three-and-out, getting the ball back at its own 43 with 3:06 remaining.

All Bethel needed was a stop.Instead, the Threshers gave the Bluejays life, interfering on fourth down.

Amos made Bethel pay, too, airing it out for Roddy for a 44-yard touchdown to tie the game at 29-29 after Gulledge’s PAT with 2:11 to go.

Tabor had to get a stop, too, and the regulation finish wasn’t for the faint-at-heart.

Hiebert engineered an 11-play, 42-yard drive, marching the Threshers all the way down to the Tabor 23 with less than 30 seconds left.

Caleb Washington saved the day, picking off Hiebert on third-and-3 and Tabor sent the game to overtime.

Sadly, Tabor’s furious rally seemed to fizzle out, and the Bluejays’ other two turnovers couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time.

Amos found his reliable target, Roddy, for a 7-yard gain, but Tabor was left facing a fourth-and-one.

Disaster struck with Amos losing the ball and Ben Mosier recovering.

The Bluejay defense again rose to the occasion, only yielding 4 yards, leaving Voth-Gaeddert’s leg to try to win the game.

Tabor still had a chance with the 23-yard kick sailing wide right. The chance crumbled though, with the Bluejays fumbling on the first play of the second overtime, allowing Voth-Gaeddert to sink Tabor.

Tabor faces a scary game when it wraps up the home-portion of its schedule Saturday against 17th-ranked McPherson.

Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. at Wiens Stadium.

Last modified Oct. 29, 2009

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