Of the Bethel College football team’s five turnovers Saturday against the Tabor Bluejays, the one that probably hurt the most was a fumble just short of the goalline with 1:40 to play, allowing Tabor to hold on to a 29-21 win Saturday in KCAC play at Thresher Stadium on Fall Fest.
Bethel dropped its second straight game to fall to 4-2 overall and in conference play. Tabor improves to 4-3, 3-3 in the conference.
“We had three turnovers in the second half,” Bethel coach Terry Harrison said. “You can’t win when you turn the ball over like that. … That’s been kind of weird. We’re 4-0 and we lost the turnover battle in those games. We won the turnover battle against Southwestern and lost, so it’s been a funky situation. We capitalize on that goalline (play) … we’ve been working on those situations. It’s frustrating.”
Tabor was led by quarterback Trey McGee, who hit 18 of 28 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. McGee also rushed for a touchdown. Derrick Harper caught eight passes for 129 yards and a score.
For Bethel, Chantz Scurry rushed for 107 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown. Zach Esau hit four of 11 passes for 154 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Bethel forced Tabor to punt on the first series of the game, setting up a 61-yard pass from Esau to Tanner Galliart, who just returned to the lineup after an injury.
Bethel forced a punt on Bethel’s next possession, but despite a fair catch signal, the Thresher punt receiver was knocked off the ball.
The officials ruled no interference on the play and Tabor got the ball back, setting up a seven-yard pass from McGee to Seth Swedorski.
Out of the swinging gate formation, the snapper threw a long ball to the left to Swedorski, who ran in for the two-point conversion.
Bethel’s next series ended on an interception, but the defense was able to stop the Bluejays on downs.
Tabor scored early in the second quarter on a five-yard McGee run.
Bethel came back with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended on a 13-yard Scurry run. Esau’s attempt to run in the two-point conversion finished just short.
A 44-yard pass from McGee to Justins Swims set Tabor to the Bethel 7. A chop block and an intentional grounding penalty took took the Bluejays back to the Bethel 38. The defense then sacked McGee at the 42 to force a punt.
Despite a punt snap that hit the ground, Bethel was called for roughing the kicker, giving Tabor a new set of downs at the Bethel 27 with 36 seconds left in the half. McGee was sacked on the following play and fumbled the ball.
Bethel got to the Tabor 10 to open the second half, but lost the ball on a fumble.
Bethel forced a short punt, setting up a 31-yard touchdown pass from Esau to Camryn Harrison. Esau punched in the two-point conversion.
Trey Palmer stopped a Tabor drive with an interception in the end zone. Bethel fumbled it back on the next play at the BC 19. On fourth down and goal from the three, McGee hit a pass to Wyatt Bell. Tabor then forced a three-and-out to set up an 82-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard pass from McGee to Derrick Harper.
Bethel got the Tabor 1, before fumbling the ball with 1:40 to play. Scurry was injured on the drive, but Jesse Garcia had four carries for 33 yards.
“Jesse Garcia is a freshman,” Harrison said. “We saw him in high school, thinking he was a pretty good player. He’s been practicing all week thinking he would get more reps. You’ll probably see more of him.”
Bethel forced a punt with 1:09 to play, getting the ball back at the Tabor 36. Bethel gave up the ball on downs at the 26 with 34 seconds to play.
Bethel hits the road for the next three weeks, playing at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Friends. The Falcons are 1-5 overall and in conference play after a 22-0 loss to Sterling on the road.
“We only have one more home game,” Harrison said. “We have to fix the turnover things right now. If it weren’t for turnovers, we’d probably be undefeated right now. We have so much to fix right now. It doesn’t change who we are. We’re going to compete in a way people will be proud of, and we’ll win more than we lose.”
1q. B Galliart 61-yd. pass from Esau (Demond kick) 12:40
1q. T Swedorski 7-yd. pass from McGee (Swedorski run) 6:58
2q. T McGee 5-yd. run (Chiavetta kick) 10:55
2q. B Scurry 13-yd. run (run failed) 3:43
3q. B Harrison 31-yd. pass from Esau (Esau run) 10:56
3q. T Bell 3-yd. pass from McGee (Chiavetta kick) :05
4q. T Harper 32-yd. pass from McGee (Chiavetta kick) 8:45
Time of poss.;30:11;27:21
RUSHING — Tabor: Johnson 20-40, McGee 14-16, Dixpn 3-14, Harper 1-4. Bethel: Scurry 25-107, Garcia 4-33, Harrison 6-26, Esau 13-22, Isley 1-(-2).
PASSING — Tabor: McGee 16-28-1, 274 yards. Bethel: Esau 4-12-1, 154 yards.
RECEIVING — Tabor: Harper 8-129, Swims 4-89, Swedorski 2-47, Davis 1-6, Bell 1-3. Bethel: Harrison 2-84, Galliart 1-61, Edwards 1-9.
Missed field goals — none.