Bluejays snap 14-game skid, outlasting Moundbuilders
Tabor notches first KCAC win in two seasons, 32-29
September 22, 2007.
That was the last time the Tabor College football team tasted victory, downing NCAA Division II’s Oklahoma-Panhandle State in Hillsboro, 49-28.
Go back to Nov. 11, 2006, for the last time Tabor beat a KCAC opponent — the St. Mary Spires, also in Hillsboro.
Times have been anything but easy for the Bluejays since then, dropping 14 straight games dating back to last season, and off to a 0-7 start this year.
With the McPherson Bulldogs and the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes still left on the schedule, the Bluejays had their best chance at a victory Saturday at Southwestern College.
In a battle to stay a game up on 10th place in the KCAC, the Bluejays (1-7, 1-6) were able to survive brutal bouts with adversity and hold off the Moundbuilders (0-8, 0-7), 32-29.
For 28 quarters this season, the one thing Tabor has yet to do is lead it opponent.
Derek Washington was a thorn in the ’Builders’ side, running through Southwestern’s defense for a career-game-high 183 yards on 22 carries and four touchdowns.
The Bluejays piled up a season-high 393 yards total with 277 rushing yards for a season-best 32 points.
Washington gave the Bluejays their first lead of the season, 7-0, capping a seven-play, 54-yard drive with a 22-yard run on third-and-short with six minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
He struck again on Tabor’s next possession, cutting out for a 62-yard run from the Bluejay 38 on first down, to make it a 14-0 game with 3:18 still left in the first quarter.
While Washington gave Southwestern fits, the Moundbuilders’ special teams and defense did the same to Tabor.
With the Bluejays backed up at their own two, quarterback Marc Amos gave up a safety to get the ’Builders on the board, 14-2, 1:41 into the second quarter.
Tabor’s inexperience playing with a lead didn’t help with Southwestern scoring 19 unanswered points to start the second half.
Jess Madddox cut the Bluejay lead to 14-9 with a 47-yard punt return, and Sean Smith blocked a Kevin Carroll punt, which was recovered by Chris Cole, who returned it 33 yards for the score.
Within a three-minute span, the Bluejays suddenly were trailing 16-14 with 8:14 left in the third quarter.
Tabor gave Southwestern some help, too, turning the ball over three times in the second half, which cost the Bluejays 10 points.
Tabor drove 34 yards in eight plays, 27 coming from Washington, before losing the ball at the Southwestern 24 with an Amos fumble.
Austin Ledy gladly stretched the lead to 19-14, nailing a 29-yard field goal by the start of the fourth quarter.
Finding a wilder, more exciting finish would be difficult to do with two ties and a lead change in the final quarter.
Washington must have felt the game slipping away on Tabor, and he responded with a 22-yard run to regain the lead for the Bluejays, 20-19, with 14:52 left.
Amos hit Sean Ramsay for the two-point conversion to push the lead to 22-19.
Washington finished his spectacular day by breaking off a 30-yard touchdown run to give Tabor a 29-19 edge with 11:30 remaining.
Maddox had another chance to sting the Bluejays, though, returning the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to pull Southwestern to within 29-26.
Amos threw for 116 yards on 12-22 passing, hitting Dereck Yeoman for a 28-yard gain to get Tabor to the ’Builder 35.
Catastrophe struck again for Tabor, though, with Washington losing the ball and Thaddeus Carrena recovering.
Led by Teal Stutzman and Adam Dirks, Tabor’s defense rose to the occasion, holding the ’Builders to 286 total yards — the lowest the Bluejays have allowed — and 81 yards on the ground.
The Bluejays avoided what could have been a disaster, limiting Southwestern to a 27-yard game-tying field goal by Ledy with 4:12 to go.
Tabor had to dodge a bullet again on its next drive with Amos floating a pass right to Chance Rathbun at midfield.
The ‘Builders couldn’t capitalize on the mistake, with the Bluejays forcing them to a three-and-out, leaving 1:36 for Tabor to find a way to pull out a win.
Amos authored a nine-play 63-yard drive, helped by a 21-yard scramble by the Bluejay quarterback and his 17-yard completion to Adrian Clay to get Tabor to the Southwestern 18.
The drive stalled at the 11, putting Tabor’s fate in place kicker Marcus Manny’s hands.
Manny coolly connected from 28 yards to give the Bluejays a 32-29 lead with just 19 seconds left in the game.
However, Tabor again had to kick off to Maddox.
This time, Zack Anaya and Sidney Childers leveled Maddox, leaving the ’Builders 77 yards away from the end zone.
Southwestern’s last chance at a win ended with Jesse Lyons’ pass to Ronald Mitchell falling harmlessly incomplete to end the Bluejays’ slide.
The Bluejays return home Saturday to host feisty McPherson in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
Last modified Nov. 5, 2008