The underlying statistics normally would not indicate the blowout that Friday’s football game at Park Hill District Stadium became.
But try as it might, Truman couldn’t muster any response to Park Hill’s rapid-fire start, as the host Trojans rang up a 27-0 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter and completed a 9-0 regular season with a 42-7 win and a Suburban Middle Seven title.
The Trojans outgained the Patriots (5-3, 3-2 Middle Seven) just 298-286 and had just three more first downs (17-14). But Truman, which went 0-10 last season and would have snared a conference title share with an upset victory Friday, had two long drives end inside the Park Hill 5 without points and had reached the Trojans’ 11 when the mercy-rule running clock ran out.
“We threw a lot at ’em this week only because (the Trojans) do so many things well,” Truman coach Gregg Webb. “They’ve run the ball well, and they did tonight, but it’s a pick-your-poison thing, and we chose to load up against the run.
“But when they throw it we don’t know what’s going on …”
Park Hill, which had its own struggles last season at 3-7, went up top to start as Kentrez Bell beat his coverage man and hauled in a 53-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Holmes on the third play from scrimmage.
A three-and-out by Truman and a blocked punt that traveled just 8 yards set up Park Hill at the Truman 32, and three plays later Matt Harris ran in from 12 yards out, making 13-0 barely three minutes in.
Truman also punted its next two possessions away, and Park Hill promptly tacked on two more touchdowns on Kenyatte Harris’ 10-yard run and Holmes’ 5-yard toss to Jeremiah Benson. At that point Holmes was 7-of-9 passing for 139 yards.
“It was boom-boom-boom, just like that, and then we’re just swimming up hill,” Webb said. “I think it showed us where we need to go as a program. Then when we do get it down there we can’t get it in, which is frustrating.”
Truman finally put together a 10-play drive that traveled 77 yards but needed at least one more, as the Trojans stopped Jon Gosserand on fourth-and-two from the 4.
The Patriots then started the third quarter with a 16-play drive that included two fourth-down conversions, the latter one a 26-yard scamper by Jordan Salima (29 carries, 146 yards). They gained a reprieve when a roughing-the-passer penalty negated a fourth-down interception in the end zone, but on the next snap Brent Woods forced a Salima fumble that the Trojans’ Liam Henry recovered at the 3.
Eli Stewart, who had three tackles for loss as a mighty-mite defensive lineman, finally got Truman on the board with an 89-yard kick return early in the fourth quarter. He said the Patriots can build on what they did the last 2 1/2 quarters, but they simply didn’t have enough focus at the start.
“We’ve got to come out hard and finish hard, and we didn’t start hard,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s kick return came after Benson returned a punt 42 yards for a touchdown, and Benson added a 30-yard quarterback keeper for the Trojans’ final score.
“One of the best things I’ve heard is that this is a loose group,” Park Hill coach Josh Hood said. “They’re loose and have fun in practice, but at game time it’s a very professional attitude.”
Tre’Von Sorrells ripped off second-half gains of 44 and 25 yards and finished with 99 yards on 13 carries to complement Salima. Jon Gosserand and Salima combined to complete 4 of 11 passes for 38 yards.
“I’m proud of our effort in the second half,” Webb said. “That really hasn’t been issue, though we don’t always play smart.”
The Patriots will host North Kansas City in the first round of the Class 5 District 7 play next week.