The Truman State University Bulldogs took a win Saturday, defeating the Lincoln University Blue Tigers 37-0. This is Truman’s first shut-out win since 2013.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jaden Barr completed 16-of-24 passes for 148 yards. Freshman running back Jordan Salima also contributed to the offense, earning his first 100-yard rushing game with 125 yards on 20 carries, and he caught eight passes for 53 yards. Salima was named GLVC Special Teams Player of the Week last week and repeated conference awards this week as GLVC Offensive Player of the Week.
The Bulldogs had 241 yards of rushing after being held to -11 yards in the first quarter. Junior defensive back Richard Neboh had the longest play of the night with a 73-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Special teams also played a part in the success against the Blue Tigers, and once again, a Bulldog received recognition for the performance. Sophomore punter Brock Rohler earned the title of GLVC Special Teams Player of the Week, with all five of his punts downed inside the 20-yard line, including four inside the 10. One of those punts led to a safety for Bulldog defense.
Bulldog defense held the Blue Tigers to 197 total yards on offense. Senior Austin Zoda, junior Isaiah Hinton and sophomore Kade Young led the ‘Dogs with six tackles each. Saturday’s game moved Zoda into the Truman career top 20 in tackles with 266 tackles.
The Bulldogs improved their record to 3-1, with one of the most anticipated matches of the season right around the corner. The Bulldogs will face four-time defending league champions University of Indianapolis Saturday for Family Day. UIndy was picked to win the conference in pre-season polls, but after a 0-3 start, the Greyhounds picked up their first win of the season Saturday against Kentucky Wesleyan. Truman, however, is 0-3 all-time against Indianapolis.
“Uncharacteristically [UIndy] hasn’t started off as well,” head coach Gregg Nesbitt says. “In terms of conference, Indy is still the team to beat. They can’t afford another conference loss. They’re actually chasing us and SBU early in the conference race.”
Currently, Truman is standing in second place in the GLVC with a 3-1 record and 2-0 in conference. Southwest Baptist is holding first with a 4-0 record and 2-0 in conference.
With the early struggles of the University of Indianapolis, a window of opportunity is appearing for Truman and other GLVC schools in the race for the conference crown.
As a senior captain, the strategy is simple for Zoda.
“At the end of the day we control our own destiny, and if we keep winning it doesn’t matter who else wins or loses,” Zoda says.
The ‘Dogs now head into a crucial and tough stretch of schedule. Following the University of Indianapolis, Truman will go on the road to play current conference leader Southwest Baptist University. The week after that, the ‘Dogs get a shot at nationally-ranked Grand Valley State.
Zoda says his team recognizes the importance of this stretch and he says he thinks his team has prepared for a challenge like this.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical games with [the University of Indianapolis] and No. 3 ranked Grand Valley State,” Zoda says. “Everyone on our team knows this stretch is important to get us where we want to go, but if you ask anyone they will just say we need to take it one game at a time and not overlook anyone.”
Just in time for some crucial matches, the ‘Dogs welcome the return of a piece of the offensive receiving corp. Sophomore Brass Woods III returns to practice this week after suffering a broken wrist earlier in the season. Woods was third on the team in catches last year with 14 for 131 yards. It is unclear whether or not Woods will play this weekend.
The Bulldogs are not focused on uncontrollable elements like injuries, however. Sophomore running back Malique Robbins says the team is taking it day by day and the players are trying not to worry about anyone but themselves.
“With the season rankings and the way our conference is playing right now, everything is up for grabs,” Robbins says. “At this point you never know what to expect week to week, so for us as a team we must play one week at a time and continue to improve collectively.”