Talk about one that got away.
For a team that’s struggled all season just to compete, much less get its first victory, the opportunity for the Bluejays couldn’t have been much better Saturday than what they had in windy Lindsborg.
With the Bethany Swedes also starving for their first victory of the year, something had to give in what was as good a match-up as what Tabor will maybe face this year.
Had it not been for a 21-0 first half lead for the Swedes, the Bluejays may have gotten their first win in more than a year.
Tabor (0-5, 0-4 KCAC) played arguably its best half of the season Saturday, but it still wasn’t enough as the Swedes (1-4, 1-3 KCAC) hung on for a 21-14 victory.
A pivotal Tabor fumble and a personal foul helped set up what proved to be the deciding touchdown late in the first half.
There probably won’t be a lot of complaints about the Bluejays not having to see Swede running back Sean Dahley again.
The five-foot, nine-inch, 220-pound bowling ball Dahley burned the Bluejay defense for a game-high 173 yards on 33 carries.
The Swedes stormed 80 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a one-yard sneak by quarterback Mark Margres to put Bethany on top 7-0 with 6:05 left in the first quarter.
Bethany was able to take advantage of the mean south wind on its next drive, starting at the Tabor 34.
A 31-yard bomb from Margres to Willie Edwards had the Swedes knocking on the door again at Tabor’s three.
Two plays later, Dahley crashed in to give Bethany a 14-0 lead with 2:51 still to go in the first quarter.
Tabor spotted the Swedes’ their final touchdown on a fumble recovered by Michael Cunningham.
Dahley ripped off three more runs for a total of 29 yards and Tabor gave Bethany a break with a personal foul to set up another score from Margres on a 12-yard scramble.
If only the Bluejays could’ve gotten on the scoreboard and played the first half like they did the second.
Derek Washington ran for a team-high 133 yards, picking up 49 on the opening drive of the second half, setting Tabor up for a first-and-10 at the Swede 13.
The Bluejays put the finishing touch on their seven-play, 77-yard scoring drive with Marc Amos hitting Phillip Garcia for a 13-yard score 4:52 into the second half.
Tabor engineered its best scoring drive of the season — 85 yards in 10 plays — with Washington finding his way in from 24 yards.
With 13:39 left in the game, the Bluejays were right back in it.
Tabor had a great shot at tying the game, getting all the way to the Swede one-yard line, but they couldn’t punch it in, failing on fourth down.
Bethany kept the ball in Dahley’s hands, which forced Tabor to burn all its timeouts.
By the time the Bluejays got the ball back, they were looking at an 81-yard drive with just more than 16 seconds left.
Up next for Tabor is a Saturday meeting in Hillsboro against the upstart St. Mary Spires.
Kickoff time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.