Last year, losing late-game leads became a trend for Truman football, and righting the wrongs toward the end of those ballgames became a major point of emphasis for the team during the offseason.
This season, Truman has stopped this late-game breakdown from happening, holding on to a 3-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter two weekends ago to defeat Southwest Baptist University 23-14 during Homecoming, and scoring 24 unanswered come-from-behind points last weekend in Joliet, Illinois, against the University of St. Francis before holding the Saints scoreless during the final quarter.
The Bulldogs’ defensive unit is, statistically, the best in the GLVC, and they have found a way to play under pressure and have success during close-game situations. In the GLVC, the ‘Dogs are now ranked second in scoring defense and rushing defense, and they lead the league in total defense, pass defense and third-down defense.
Nationally, the ‘Dogs defense is in the top tier of most statistical categories. The Bulldogs are 17th in total defense among 169 Div. II teams, according to NCAA.com. Truman’s defense has recorded the third most snap plays of any team in the top 20 in this category. The ‘Dogs are 29th in the nation for scoring defense and 22nd for red zone defense.
The Truman defense was aided by its offense, which helped complete the comeback last weekend in Joliet, with freshman running back Andy Satulla rushing for 172 yards and two scores and being named the GLVC Offensive Player of the Week. To leave Illinois with the Bulldogs’ third win of the season, the team had to maintain its 4-point lead during the entire fourth quarter.
Junior wide receiver Joey Schenck said practicing against their own defense has been just as challenging for the Bulldogs as it has been for opponents on game day.
“They’re tough-minded and physical,” Schenck said. “They’re physical up front, they’re quick on the outside. As far as stopping the run and being able to stop the pass because of how well they play the run, it’s huge for us.”
Schenck said the offensive players frequently talk about how much confidence it gives them to have such a tenacious defense. He said they know the defense will make plays, which allows them to focus on doing their part to secure the team’s success.
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