Truman football coach remains optimistic despite 18th straight loss

Derek Wiley
Special to The Examiner
Truman wide receiver Patrick Martin makes a diving catch in the first quarter of Friday night's football game against Oak Park.

Truman coach Charlie Pugh can see the light at the end of a tunnel nearly two years in the making. 

“I believe in our team,” Pugh said Friday night after a 48-13 home loss to Oak Park, the Patriots’ 18th straight defeat dating back to the 2019 season. “There’s not a goal that we set that we can’t still achieve. We haven’t started conference play yet. We need to win our first conference game, so we can play for a conference championship. They’re (goals) all still there. They’re all still attainable. We’ve just got to keep plugging.” 

On offense, Truman was able to move the ball. Senior Patrick Martin caught five passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore Zavion Toombs rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries.  

However, fumbled snaps, dropped passes and penalties plagued the Patriots (0-3).  

Truman fumbled and recovered four snaps for a total loss of 34 yards. The Patriots also muffed a snap on a punt deep in their own territory that then led to an easy Oak Park 5-yard touchdown run.

Truman running back Zavion Toombs lowers his shoulder to take on a Oak Park defensive back Friday night at home.

“If we execute those plays, it’s just a different energy and a different momentum,” Pugh said. “Instead of 34-6, it’s 21-14 and we’re still fighting.  

“They can see it. If we go pull up film now, it’s a play here and there – literally. It’s just execution. We can play with anybody that we step on the field with. I believe in them and the best is still ahead. We’re going to get there, and we’re going to get there this year.” 

Truman’s defense also struggled to slow down Oak Park, which entered the game 0-2 after finishing 3-7 last season. The Northmen rushed for 370 yards and passed for 140.  

Oak Park’s touchdowns came on plays of 50, 63, 15, 58, 8, 5 and 45 yards.  

The Patriots got within 20-6 on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Zane Anderson to Martin with 3:22 remaining in the second quarter. However, the Northmen scored on the first play of their next possession when KeAndre Braxton broke free for a 58-yard touchdown run. 

After a three-and-out on offense, Truman then fumbled the snap on the punt and went into halftime trailing 34-6. 

The Patriots did not score again until 6:46 remaining in the fourth when Martin caught a short pass from John Chapin and then outran the Oak Park defense for a 71-yard touchdown. 

Truman’s next chance at a win will come Friday, Sept. 17 at Grain Valley.  

“There are definitely things that we’re going to build on. It’s tough here because we haven’t won on the scoreboard anyway, but we have a lot of wins that we see, and we’ve got to put it all together,” Pugh said. “We’ve just got to execute better and show some consistency.”