HILLSBORO — The Tabor College football team needed to make a statement to the national pollsters on Saturday.
The Bluejays, ranked No. 17 in the country, demolished Bethany College 65-21 to finish in a tie for the KCAC title with Sterling, but the Warriors receive the automatic berth in the 16-team national playoffs because they defeated the Bluejays 23-21 in the head-to-head meeting.
Tabor now has to wait to see if it qualifies as an at-large team as it needed some help on Saturday. The announcement will be made later this afternoon.
With injuries having decimated the Bethany defense, the Swedes were overwhelmed by the methodical Tabor offense for 633 yards, the second straight week the Jays have gone over 600 yards.
It was 31-0 at the half, but Bethany did show signs of life in the second half with three scores. It all came through the air, though, as the Swedes’ ground game produced just 4 yards to go with 245 through the air for 249 total.
Drevion Cooper gashed the Swedes for 324 yards rushing, part of a 443-yard ground attack for Tabor.
Isaiah Salazar threw a pair of TD passes for Bethany to Mike Milbourne. Bryce Banks threw a cosmetic TD pass to Rodney Molette with 9 seconds left in the game.
The loss left Bethany at 4-5 in the KCAC after it had been tied for the conference lead after five games with a 4-1 record. By losing their final four games, the Swedes closed the year at .500 at 5-5, but it represented another improvement in the program in Paul Hubbard’s third year. The highlight of the season, of course, was a 30-28 victory over Sterling.