Photo By: Jacob Macek
Photo By: Jacob Macek
Football - Sun, Oct. 8, 2017
(16)Tabor College
Tabor (Kan.)1470021
Sterling (Kan.)0170623
Sterling, Kan.,
Tabor (Kan.)Indv. LeadersSterling (Kan.)
#32 Ontre'Von Cooper - 108Rushing #15 Eric Butler - 126
#11 Curry Parham - 152Passing #15 Eric Butler - 209
#24 Skylar Valencia - 75Receiving #2 Darryl Terrell - 80
Tabor (Kan.)Team StatisticsSterling (Kan.)
148Rushing Yards 196
152Passing Yards 209
1Turnovers 1
24:44Possesion Time 36:12

STERLING, KAN. - The No. 17 Sterling College Warriors and the No. 16 Tabor College Bluejays battled it out in front of a packed Smisor Stadium for homecoming on Saturday. The teams were both 3-0 in KCAC play, setting up a key game for both squads in the conference race. Down at the half, Sterling continued to fight and would rally in the end for an exciting finish, defeating the Bluejays, 23-21.

Sterling started the game with a quick three and out, giving Tabor possession early into the first quarter. The Bluejays would take advantage of the quick start, using their strong rushing attack to move down the field. Tabor continued to keep the tempo in their favor, as the Bluejays would score on their opening drive to take an early 7-0 lead with 9:08 left in the first quarter. Looking to get momentum on the next drive, Sterling would start with plays by Aaron Chisolm and Eric Butler to give Sterling some movement, but the Bluejays would keep the Warriors from making any big plays, forcing Sterling to punt.

The Tabor offense would look to pick up where they left off, but key stops by Koltyn Ratliff and Kenya Edner would force the Bluejays to punt on the following possession midway through the quarter. Another three and out series forced by Tabor would make Sterling punt, however the Bluejays would capitalize on an error by Sterling, recovering the ball near the end zone. The Bluejays would score on the following play, taking a 14-0 lead over Sterling with 2:54 left in the opening quarter. The Warriors would look to end the quarter with a spark of offense, as a nice return from Maurice Rucker would put Sterling in a good field position. Three straight completions by Eric Butler to Darryl Terrell, Jordan Dye, and Richard Newell would give the Warriors a final surge into the end of the quarter with Tabor leading 14-0.

In the second quarter, Sterling attempted to get into the endzone, but the Tabor defense would hold strong to force the Warriors to a field goal attempt. Michael Winstead would knock down a 26-yard field goal, putting Sterling on the board to make it 14-3 with 14:55 left in the second. Tabor continued to find ways to move the ball down the field, using big plays through the air to put themselves in scoring position. The Bluejays would add another quick score, taking a 21-3 lead over Sterling, with 11:54 left in the half. Needing to find some rhythm on offense, Sterling started to find their footing, as Eric Butler would connect on back-to-back passes to Raphael Williams, while Eric Haynes would carry the ball nicely to give Sterling some momentum.

After back-to-back stops by the Tabor defense, Sterling found themselves in a fourth down situation just outside the redzone, but Eric Butler would calmly find his way through the Bluejay defense and into the endzone, adding a 22-yard score for the Warriors to make it 21-10. With eight minutes left in the quarter. Sterling started to turn up the pressure on defense, as the Warriors looked to shut down Tabor on their possession. The Bluejays would start the drive with a big pass down the field, but key tackles later in the drive by Gael Esparza, Swain Williams, and Nicholas McGrew would keep Tabor from reaching the endzone, as the Bluejays would settle for a field goal attempt. From 22-yards out, Tabor tried their chance at a field goal, but it would miss just left, keeping the score at 21-10 with just under six minutes to play in the half.

Continuing the momentum from the previous drive, Eric Butler continued to make big plays for the Warriors, while also finding Richard Newell and Darryl Terrell down the field to move the ball for Sterling. The Warriors continued to use a nice pace on offense, keeping the clock moving while making strong plays on the field, to keep the drive alive. With just under a minute to play in the half, Sterling found themselves on the goaline, looking to cut into the Tabor lead. The Warriors would do just that, as Darryl Terrell would take the sweep into the endzone for the score, making it 21-17. Tabor looked for a final chance a quick score before the half, but a broken up pass by Austin O'Toole and a sack by Charles Booker kept the Bluejays from creating any opportunities, as Tabor would lead Sterling at the break, 21-17.

In the second half, both defenses stepped up to the plate, as neither team would get on the board in the third quarter. Sterling would stop Tabor on the first possession, as stops from Koltyn Ratliff, Ray Winfield, and Sam Cusack would halt the Bluejays on offense. However, Tabor would answer right back, forcing the Warriors to a quick three and out early in the quarter. Another strong series on defense by the Warriors behind key tackles from Dezmond Howard and Swain Williams would force the Bluejays to punt, giving Sterling a chance on offense midway through the quarter. Sterling looked to score on the following drive, as Eric Butler would connect with Richard Newell and Raphael Williams to put Sterling in great field position. However, Tabor would stop the Sterling drive, coming up with a interception and returning it all the way to the Sterling 26-yard line as Eric Butler would come up with the tackle to save a Tabor score. With a quick change of tempo, the Bluejays looked to get into the endzone, but strong defensive stops from Lucas DunbarDominique Wilkins, and Mike Merriweather would keep Tabor from striking back. With time running out in the quarter, Tabor would have the ball on the 6-yard line in a 4th & 2 situation, but Dezmon Walker would find his way into the back field, shutting down the play for a loss of two yards, forcing a turnover on downs for the Bluejays. As the clock would run out at the end of the third quarter, Tabor would lead Sterling 21-17 heading into the final quarter of the game.

After both teams traded possessions back and forth in the fourth quarter, Sterling would get the ball with five minutes to play in the game. Needing to score, the offense would work to move down the field with the rushing attack of Eric Butler and Aaron Chisolm, collecting key yards to keep the drive moving. Butler would find Darryl Terrell down the field and would also connect with Eric Haynes to put Sterling on the Tabor 36-yard line, but consecutive defensive stops by the Bluejays would force the Warriors to turn the ball over on downs, giving Tabor possession with just under four minutes left in the game. Looking to run the clock down late in the game, Tabor would start their drive with a nice run, but Nicholas McGrew would force a Bluejay fumble, as Vincent Haider would recover for the Warriors, giving Sterling possession back on Tabor 47-yard line.

Eric Butler would go right to work, completing passes to Darryl Terrell to keep Sterling's chances in the game alive. Butler would continue to make difficult plays, finding Greer Chandler for a 15-yard pass on fourth down , followed by a nice 8-yard pass to Jordan Dye to keep the Warriors drive moving. As the clock startled to dwindle down into the final minutes of play, Butler again connected with Chandler to move the ball to the Tabor 4-yard line, however a strong defensive stop by the Bluejays moved Sterling back to the 11, as the Warriors would use a timeout to stop the clock with under a minute to play. On the following play, Eric Butler would scramble to attempt a pass to Darryl Terrell, but Sterling would be called for an ineligible player downfield, moving the Warriors back to the 16-yard line. After a quick play to move up to the 14-yard line with 3.8 seconds left on the clock, Sterling found themselves at fourth and goal, looking for the score in the endzone, only this time for Tabor to be called for holding, moving the ball up to the 7-yard line. With 0:00 on the clock, Sterling would have their chance at an untimed play, as Eric Butler looked for Raphael Williams in the endzone, however Tabor would be called for pass interference, giving Sterling another chance at a score as the ball was moved to the 3-yard line. With the crowd roaring and on their feet, Sterling would again use the quick sweep to Darryl Terrell as he would maneuver his way through the defenders and into the endzone, giving Sterling the 23-21 comeback victory over Tabor.

Eric Butler led the way for Sterling offensively, finishing with 209 yards passing and 126 yards rushing, including a 22-yard rushing touchdown. Darryl Terrell led the receivers with 12 receptions for 80 yards, to go along with his two rushing touchdowns in the game.

Defensively, Kenya Edner led the Warriors with 11 tackles, finishing with five solo and six assists. Dezmond Howard collected seven tackles, including 1.5 for a loss and a forced fumble, while Swain Williams added six tackles, including one for a loss. Dwight Wilkerson finished with two pass break ups, while Charles Booker added a sack in the victory for Sterling.

Sterling (5-1, 4-0) will travel to Lindsborg, Kan. on Saturday, October 14th, when they will take on the (RV) Bethany College Swedes (4-1, 3-1). Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m.

Be sure to check for news and updates on Sterling Warrior Athletics on Facebook (/SCWarriors), Twitter (@SterlingCSports), and Instagram (sterlingcsports), as well as the hashtag #swordsup. Watch all of the Warriors' live home events on the Sterling College Sports Network.