Over the weekend the Truman State University football team traveled to Urbana, Ohio, to complete its regular season against Urbana University. The Blue Knights entered the game 7-3 overall and were the Bulldogs’ fifth opponent this season with a winning record.
The Bulldogs got on the board early with a 26-yard field goal by placekicker Josh Scheiderer to give them the first lead of the game. Later in the opening half, the first touchdown of the game came off the hand of Truman quarterback Jaden Barr and found Monty Sharpe II, as the Bulldogs took a 10-0 lead at halftime.
Late in the third quarter the Blue Knights cut the lead to just six after their first score of the game came on a 42 yard bomb from Urbana quarterback Izzy Sanders to Jesse Bray, the longest scoring play of the game. Entering the fourth quarter with a 13-7 lead, the Bulldogs needed to hold on to finish the 2019 season with nine wins for the first time in over 25 years. With just six minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs finally pulled away from the Knights with back to back scores. First, running back Jordan Salima scampered into the endzone with a three-yard touchdown run, followed by the third and final field goal of the day for Scheiderer. After another late touchdown pass for the Knights, Truman held onto it’s lead as the clock hit zero to give the Bulldogs their final regular season victory with a score of 24-14.
Now that the regular season is behind them, the Bulldogs are 9-2 overall and have earned a spot in the America’s Crossroads Bowl in early December. The Bulldogs will be pitted against Ohio Dominican University, who finished the season 7-2 overall and second in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference behind Div. II playoff team Tiffin University. The December matchup is the first meeting between the two teams, and is one of only five Div. II bowl games this postseason.
Wide receiver Spencer Newell has had the chance to learn underneath this season’s senior class for three years. In his time here he has seen multiple records broken, historic winning seasons and sub .500 seasons, all of which have helped craft the culture on the sidelines over his tenure with the team.
“[The seniors] have really built a class act, hard working foundation for our program in the years to come,” Newell said. “They came in and won the conference, and the middle two years didn’t go the way we wanted, but they battled, came to work everyday and this year showed that their hard work finally paid off.”
This season the Bulldogs have been led by a number of seniors on both sides of the ball. This weekend’s game put the accumulation of their hard work on full display. Senior quarterback and four-year starter Jaden Barr finished the game as Truman’s new all-time leader in total offense with 9,076 career yards, passing current Bulldog hall of famer Eric Howe. This only adds to Barr’s decorated career as a member of the Truman football team. In Barr’s career as a Bulldog he has led Truman to a conference title in his freshman season, been a part of the ’Dogs only nine-win season of this millenium, and now will be under center for Truman’s first bowl game in almost 40 years.
In addition to Barr’s record-setting day, Jordan Salima finished the game with 216 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards and a rushing touchdown. Salima not only set his career high for rushing yards in his last regular season game as a Bulldog, he also eclipsed the 1,000 rushing yard mark for the second time in his four year career with Truman. Salima ranks second all-time for carries and top ten in both rushing yards and all-purpose yards.
The impact of this season’s senior class could also be seen on the defensive side of the ball last Saturday. Senior defensive back Jordan Siegel came up with an interception in the Bulldog endzone while the Knights were threatening to cut Truman’s lead to three before half. Defensive standout Sam Reeves finished his career in the purple and black by adding onto his record sack total. Reeves broke the Truman career record in the ’Dogs first game of the season and has added on eight more sacks to tighten his grip on the top spot.
From high scoring wins, to heartbreaking last-second losses, this team has been through it all in what has been one of the Bulldogs’ more dramatic seasons in recent memory. With only one game left to play, senior defensive lineman Jake Floyd says that this final game is the most important of this season.
“[This game] means everything,” Floyd said. “Our squad has a chance to make our mark in the history books.”
The Bulldogs have accomplished more than most teams in Truman history this season, as only six teams in Bulldog history have qualified for the postseason, but like they have done all year, the Bulldogs are only focused on victory this week to send their seniors off with a win.