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TABOR: Gottsch era closes with loss

Coach, Bluejays end 2009 winless after 48-34 loss to St. Mary

Sports writer

The Bluejays received word Nov. 11 from coach Mike Gottsch that after three years at the helm, he would be stepping down after Saturday’s game at St. Mary.

Even with an inspiring reason to give it their best effort of the year to send Gottsch out with a victory, the Bluejays were unable to, with the Spires hanging on for a 48-34 win.

The loss leaves Tabor with its first winless season in 10 years at 0-10, and Gottsch with a 3-27 record during his tenure.

The Bluejays played their best game of the year with Joey Erickson accounting for 470 total yards and four touchdowns, rushing for a career- and game-high 173 yards and throwing for 297.

Daniel Jost was on the receiving end of two of Erickson’s three touchdown passes, hauling in six catches for a game- and season-high 136 yards.

Tabor was also its best of the season on third downs, going 8-for-16, amidst rolling up a season-high 519 yards on offense.

But it was the Spires’ third quarter, which left the Bluejays in a hole too deep to get out of, stretching a 21-18 lead to 42-18.

The Bluejays appeared inspired the first half, taking a 6-0 lead after Erickson hit Jost for a 13-yard touchdown, capping a 10-play 69-yard drive.

Tyler Wise blocked Stephen Gulledge’s PAT kick, leaving the score 6-0, and Tabor didn’t try another kick.

A miscue by the Bluejays shortly before the first quarter concluded cost them favorable field position for the Spires, and St. Mary took advantage and a 7-6 lead.

Kyle Jones scored the go-ahead touchdown with a 6-yard run with 36 seconds left in the first quarter.

The lead changed hands six times in the first half, Tabor pulling ahead on its ensuing drive.

With the help of a pass interference penalty by the Spires, Erickson again hit Jost on second-and-12 for a 17-yard score.

Erickson was unable to connect with Zeb Petty on the two-point conversion, but Tabor had regained the lead, 12-7.

Spire quarterback Daniel Robles was 5-for-5 on the next drive — 28-of-40 on the game — and Cameron Riddley put the finishing touches on St. Mary’s 73-yard drive with a 10-yard run.

A fumble inside the Spire 6 ruined Tabor’s chance of regaining the lead on its next drive after Erickson had ripped off a 39-yard gain.

Three turnovers were a huge culprit in wiping out scoring opportunities for Tabor — all occurring on St. Mary’s side of the field.

Petty made up for the fumble, though, forcing Mark Walsh to lose the ball, too.

Paced by a 43-yard completion from Erickson to Jost, Derek Washington regained the lead for Tabor, 18-14, scoring on a 1-yard run.

The Bluejays were 2-for-4 on two-point conversion attempts, with the one following Washington’s run failing.

Tabor’s lead only held up for a minute with Robles hitting Terrell Harper for a 25-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half — the first of a four-straight touchdown flurry.

The three-point margin at halftime was as close as the Bluejays would get again.

St. Mary broke open the game in the third quarter, scoring on 70-, 76-, and 80-yard drives while Tabor’s offense was held to 19 yards on its 2.

The Spires equaled Tabor’s ground attack of 222 yards, and Ridley’s 80-yard run and 98 yards supplied the majority of it.

With one last push on a frustrating season, the Bluejay offense fired up again in the fourth quarter — which was too late.

Erickson cut the lead to 42-26, scoring on an 18-yard run with 2:09 left in the game and Erickson went deep for Chris Roddy on a 27-yard touchdown — Tabor’s final of the season.

The Bluejays’ 519 total yards were 260 yards better than their season average and Tabor was 16 points better than its scoring average.

Tabor loses nine seniors, but many of its skilled position players should return for an improved 2010.

Last modified Nov. 19, 2009

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