Going back a month ago, a victory might have been hard to fathom for Tabor College and second-year coach Mike Gottsch.
Opponents were bullying Tabor around every Saturday, and it was hard enough to compete, much less win.
After picking up their first victory in more than a year Nov. 1 in Winfield, the Bluejays added their second straight win Saturday in Hillsboro.
The win now leaves Tabor tied with the Bulldogs and Bethany for seventh place in the KCAC at 2-6.
The Swedes are tied with the Bluejays at 2-7 overall.
The Bluejays are not just competing; they’re playing with heart as the last two games went down to the wire.
Tabor’s offense put up a season-high 383 yards last week, but Saturday’s 405 total yards again set a new high.
In six out of seven games, the Bluejays have gotten off to a bad start and it was the same thing Saturday as they had to dig their way out from under a 19-0 landslide.
Tabor also had to fight through three turnovers.
It looked like the game would get away from the Bluejays early with the Bulldogs putting together drives of 70- and 98-yards to grab the lead as it tried to get in gear offensively.
Josh White fueled McPherson’s 19-straight points, scoring on a 38-yard quarterback keeper nearly six minutes into the game.
Tabor had a favorable chance to break even on the opening drive of the second quarter, but quarterback Marc Amos lost the ball at the goal line.
Jeff Paulson recovered and nine plays later, the Bluejays were down 13-0 after Ryan Smith’s nine-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs failed on the point after with Travis Eason being stopped short.
McPherson extended its lead with 4:25 left in the first half with White hitting Stephen Harrison for a two-yard touchdown.
The two tried connecting on the two-point conversion, which once again was stamped out by the Bluejay defense.
Derek Washington has emerged as arguably Tabor’s biggest weapon with Demetrius Cox not 100 percent.
The freshman Washington finally broke out, pulling the Bluejays to within 19-6 by halftime, taking a pitch from Amos 49 yards to cap a two-play, 67-yard drive, barely a half minute into the second half.
Marcus Manny couldn’t put through the extra point, but the momentum slowly started swinging in the Bluejays’ favor to start the second half.
Washington gouged McPherson for a game- and career-high 251 yards on 34 carries and furnished all three Tabor touchdowns to have seven in the last two games.
McPherson would’ve had better luck stopping a tank than it did Washington, who had 130 yards in the first half alone — five less than the Bulldogs’ entire ground attack.
Amos finished 8-18 through the air for 110 yards — 53 coming on the opening drive of the second half.
A 33-yard bomb to Phillip Robben got Tabor to the Bulldog two, and Washington cut McPherson’s lead to 19-13 with Manny nailing the PAT at the 12:25 mark in the third.
The Bulldogs gave Tabor excellent field position on its next drive with Teal Stutzman stopping Chris Ezebunwa on fourth-and-short and the Bluejay 49.
Amos and Washington helped the Bluejays get to the Bulldog seven, but they had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Manny to erase Tabor’s deficit to 19-16 with 3:57 still left in the third.
Washington kept charging at the McPherson defense, picking up 39 yards on five carries on the go-ahead drive, putting Tabor on top with a 14-yard run six seconds into the final stretch.
McPherson missed an opportunity on the ensuing drive, starting at its own 44.
The Bulldogs drive fizzled out at the Bluejay 29 with White unable to connect with Gary Cox on fourth-and-five.
That was the final time McPherson made it past midfield.
Michael Henry killed any chances of the drive going further, recovering a White fumble, which allowed the Bluejays to preserve the victory by running out the clock.
The Bluejay defense again rose to the occasion, limiting McPherson to 371 total yards, 205 passing.
Tabor wraps up the season Saturday at home, playing host to the dangerous Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.