Southwestern topples Tabor, 23-20
With eight straight losses, Nov. 7 may have been a date circled on the Bluejays football team’s calendar.
That’s because Tabor would get perhaps its best chance to snap its losing streak Saturday in Winfield against the Southwestern Moundbuilders.
The Bluejays’ heartbreaks have multiplied throughout the year, and they continued again with Southwestern grinding out a 23-20 victory.
Saturday’s loss keeps Tabor in 10th place in the KCAC at 0-8 in league play and 0-9 overall.
Any chance of the Bluejays improving from 10th place came to an end as the setback keeps them two games behind both St. Mary and Bethel in conference action with one game left on the schedule.
When Tabor looks back on Saturday’s demise, a pivotal unsportsmanlike conduct called on the Bluejays allowed the Builders to erase a 20-16 lead to the final score by keeping Southwestern’s drive alive.
As if the Bluejays haven’t had enough difficulty this year, disputable officiating further hindered them.
But Tabor’s game started badly, falling behind 2-0 after a safety on the opening possession and going backward 25 yards.
The lead grew to 9-0 on Southwestern’s next drive with the Builders using a short field.
In a game featuring a pair of teams challenged for offense, Southwestern outdid Tabor 280 to 211 in total yards, despite the Bluejays’ best all-around effort of the year.
Jordan Barrett found Logan Wyrick for a 2-yard touchdown to help the Builders construct a 9-0 lead 5:39 into the game.
Tabor again struggled to produce rushing yards, carrying 29 times for 60 yards, but Derek Washington cut the lead to 9-7 on the Bluejays’ next drive.
Jesse Erickson directed an 11-play, 74-yard drive and hit Chris Roddy for a 33-yard completion that moved Tabor to the Builders 27.
Roddy ended the day with six catches for a game-high 113 yards.
Six plays later, Washington had his first of two touchdowns to go along with a team-high 25 yards.
Southwestern stretched its lead to 16-7 in the opening two minutes of the second quarter with Lance Evans plunging in from a yard away.
Evans’ game-high 103 yards rushing from 33 carries helped Southwestern edge Tabor rushing by 52 yards.
Erickson completed 12 of 28 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown — an 11-yarder to Roddy to close the gap to 16-14 with just over six minutes left in the first half.
Tabor had a great chance to overtake the lead after its defense held Southwestern to 5 yards in three plays.
Roddy had a big return, which would have left the Bluejays at the Builder 16.
That was negated with a block in the back moving Tabor all the way back to its own 32 and costing them 53 yards, leaving the score at 16-14 at halftime.
Turnovers have crippled the Bluejays all year; however, they were able to take advantage of a Barrett fumble in the waning moments of the third quarter.
Clark Wolzich recovered to set up Tabor at the Southwestern 33.
Erickson completed back-to-back passes to Roddy for 17 yards before Washington struck again with another 2-yard touchdown, 31 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Tabor’s PAT attempt was no good with a high snap leaving Stephen Gulledge with no other choice than to recover and go for two.
Tabor had just taken the 20-16 lead when disaster struck.
Barrett mishandled the snap and Evans was hammered by Teal Stutzman.
Chris Sanborn recovered and raced into the end zone all for naught.
The touchdown was waived off and Tabor was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct after coach Mike Gottsch pleaded his case to the referees.
Instead of being left with a second-and-18, the Builders were left with second-and-3; nine plays later, Barrett hit Joey Pataki for the winning touchdown — a 9-yard score.
Tabor’s season comes to an end Saturday with a road trip to Leavenworth to take on St. Mary.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.