For 24 minutes of the game, Truman went toe to toe with No. 5 state-ranked Columbia Battle Friday night.
The Patriots were down just 6-0 at halftime, but despite an inspired performance from the defense, a plethora penalties and costly mistakes allowed the Spartans to run away with a 34-0 victory on Truman’s homecoming night.
Each time the Patriots made a big play on offense, it was called back because of an illegal man downfield or holding penalty. Over and over, penalties kept the offense from getting going as Truman racked up just 110 yards of total offense.
However, the Truman defense came to play. The Patriots (1-6) limited Battle to just 210 total yards from scrimmage thanks to an impressive performance by their front seven and interceptions from Alex Kimble and Trenton Sorrells. But even with those turnovers, the Patriots only had a pair of trips in Battle territory.
“We’re killing ourselves over and over, and we don’t have to do it,” Truman coach Charlie Pugh said. “I think the kids showed today we can play with anyone when we set our minds to it. But it has to be four quarters. It can’t be two or three. I’ve never had that many illegal man downfield penalties called on me in a season, let alone in a game. The refs did a great job. Every time we made a great play, we were coming back. We have to work on that.”
“The thing about our defense I am most proud of it we had some guys step up. Sterling Trawick stepped up, and Nate Clemons. Those guys did a tremendous job and we had our starting linebacker out and our starting safety out. (Trawick) and (Clemons) really helped us out.”
Battle got things started in the second quarter when the offense started to utilize a series of bubble screens to pick up chunks of yards. The Spartans (5-2) punched it in on a 5-yard screen pass from quarterback Jaren Lewis to Drey Tyler for a 6-0 edge at the 7:08 mark.
“They did a really good job stopping the run inside,” Battle coach Justin Conyers said of Truman, “so we knew we had to get on the perimeter a little bit and get Drey Tyler on bubbles. We had to go to more of our quick game and that helped set up some of our vertical passes.
Battle had a couple of other opportunities late in the half to add on to its lead. It had the ball on the Truman 12, but Kimball jumped the route on a screen pass and picked it off and returned it to the Patriot 27. The Spartans also got it down to the Truman 34 when Lewis launched a deep pass intended for Keondre’ Whitaker and it was picked off by Sorrells.
“We were disappointed going into halftime up just 6-0,” Conyers said. “I challenged the guys a little bit. I told them, ‘We have to get it together. This is adversity right now and we’re not playing in our mindset right now. We’re not playing Battle football.’ But we came out and executed well in the second half.’”
Early in the third quarter, Truman got the ball to the Spartan 32, but tried a double reverse pass from wide receiver Devon Scheib. The trick play backfired when Jaylon Williamson intercepted the pass to thwart the Patriots’ best drive.
At the 2:02 mark in the third, a botched snap on a punt from Truman set Battle up at the Patriot 1. Tre Morris scored on a 1-yard plunge and Lewis connected with Matt Page for the two-point conversion to take a 14-0 edge.
A shanked punt from Truman set up Battle with good field position at the Truman 25 midway through the fourth and it capitalized when Lewis went up the gut for 6 yards on a read option to put the game on ice, making it 21-0, Spartans.
They capped the scoring with a 38-yard punt return from Payton Roberts and an interception return from Adrian Kenney.
“We played well in all three phases,” Conyers said. “We got a punt return for a touchdown, we got punt blocks tonight and we scored defensively. When you are firing on all three phases, that obviously leads to the way it looks on the scoreboard tonight.”
Truman running back Andrew Owens accounted for 89 total yards, which included 88 on 28 carries.