Going back to the earlier part of the decade, taking a spill against the St. Mary Spires used to be a real punch in the gut.
For much of the decade the Spires were a sure pick to finish towards the bottom of the KCAC, sometimes so small in numbers, players had to play both sides of the ball.
Fast forward to 2008, a loss to them now is not necessarily a step backward.
For Tabor College, who is still searching for its first victory in more than a year, Saturday’s meeting with St. Mary (4-2, 3-2 KCAC) in Hillsboro wasn’t a good showing.
The substantially improved Spires got a quick start, jumping out to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter and rolled to a 53-31 victory, dropping Tabor to 0-6 on the year and 0-5 in league play.
Despite the loss, the Bluejays have reason to feel good, their season-high 31 points is more points than they’ve scored in more than half of their games combined this year.
Tabor has struggled with getting a good start and Saturday was no different with the Spires jumping on top 7-0 after holding the Bluejays to a three-and-out on the opening drive.
Rocky Rosales lit up Tabor for a game-high 116 yards on 25 carries and scored four touchdowns — the first two giving St. Mary the 14-0 lead with 7:57 left in the first quarter.
The Bluejays cut the lead in two, helped by a 38-yard gain from the returning Demetrius Cox, giving Tabor a first-and-goal at the seven.
Marc Amos scored the touchdown, capping a three-play 44-yard drive, getting Tabor back in the game 45 seconds later.
St. Mary again pushed the lead to two touchdowns with Daniel Robles engineering an 11-play 82-yard drive, hitting Tai Murray for a 26-yard score with just less than two minutes left in the first quarter.
Robles also had a big day for the Spires, throwing four touchdowns while completing 26-37 attempts for a game-high 357 yards.
Tabor got as close as 21-10 with Marcus Manny booting a 34-yard field goal before the flood gates opened after the 12:39 mark in the second quarter.
Rosales added his third touchdown and Robles fired to Derick Schulte for a nine-yard score to stretch St. Mary’s lead to 34-10 with 6:57 left in the half.
The Bluejays again sawed the lead down to 17, with Amos finding Phillip Robben from 24 yards out to get Tabor to within 34-17 by halftime.
Robles was 14-20 in the first half, throwing for 162 yards while Rosales had 16 carries for 88 yards as St. Mary piled up 296 yards total offense.
Amos finished the game completing 16-24 passes for 187 yards, including 9-12 in the first half for 121.
The duo of Rosales and Robles combined to score the Spires final 19 points — Rosales capping a nine-play 64-yard drive to stretch the lead to 40-17 with Ryan Sutton missing his second straight PAT attempt.
Robles got 78 of his 357 yards on the next two drives, airing it out for Willie Harris for a 33-yard touchdown and going long for Leroy Griffin for a 45-yard score.
Sutton missed his third out of five PAT kicks, but St. Mary was firmly in command with a 53-17 lead with 14:05 left in the game.
Amos led a five-play, 80-yard drive with Derek Washington breaking free for a 37-yard gain to give Tabor first and goal at the 10.
Washington carried the ball 10 times for a team-high 78 yards to help the Bluejays get 146 of their 333 yards total offense on the ground.
One play later, Amos was in the end zone again, but he was unable to hang on to the ball, fumbling at the one.
Marion’s Drew Looper recovered, scoring on a one-yard touchdown to get Tabor to 53-24 with 6:40 left in the game.
The Bluejays added their last score with 28 seconds to go — Amos hitting Dareck Yeoman for a nine-yard touchdown — capping Tabor’s best drive of the game of 81 yards.