Just call Truman the FCS football slayers.
For the second time in the first three weeks of the 2019 DII football season, Truman has taken down an FCS opponent. The Bulldogs defeated Valparaiso 38-7 on Saturday on their home field at Stokes Stadium in Kirksville, Missouri. After barely squeaking by Drake in Week 1, Truman had little problem this week, marking the seventh time in 2019 a DII football team has taken down an FCS squad.
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Let's breakdown a few things we learned about one of DII football's trickiest teams to beat in 2019.
Truman's FCS success
This was the Bulldogs' third victory over an FCS opponent dating back to last season. Truman handed Valparaiso a 34-20 loss on the road last season. That win snapped a three-game losing streak to start the season, and in turn, started a six-game winning streak.
Flash forward nearly one year and Truman was one of six DII football teams to upset an FCS team in Week 1 of the 2019 season. The Bulldogs defeated Drake 10-7. It wasn't anything fancy, the Bulldogs didn't even score an offensive touchdown and was outgained 240 to 181 in total yards. While the end result on Saturday netted in yet another FCS victory, it was quite the opposite. Truman had 133 yards in the first quarter alone, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back.
Familiar faces spark FCS upsets for Truman
Truman and Great Lakes Valley Conference fans certainly know the name Lawrence Woods by now. So does the FCS.
Woods — an all-purpose guru that excels on defense and the return game for Truman — had a tremendous 92-yard kick return in the fourth quarter of last season's victory over Valpo. It put the Bulldogs up by two scores and gave them the insurance points they needed. In Truman's Week 1 victory over Drake, the Bulldogs scored their lone touchdown thanks to an 87-yard kickoff return from Woods to open the second half. Woods kept the party going on Saturday, returning an interception 32 yards to the house and giving Truman a 31-0 lead in the second half.
He's not alone. Quarterback Jaden Barr seems to rise to the occasion as well. Last year, Barr threw for 122 yards and a touchdown and ran for 118 more yards, scoring a touchdown on the ground as well. His 75-yard strike to Mitch Nichols put the Bulldogs ahead for good and wound up being the longest play from scrimmage for Truman in 2018. On Saturday, he didn't need to put up big numbers but controlled the tempo and had a nice 44-yard touchdown pass to Jake Ellis for the first score of the game.
And don't forget Kicker Josh Scheiderer. Last season against Valparaiso, he tied a school single-game record with four field goals. He got the scoring started with a 46-yard field goal against Drake and put the Bulldogs ahead 10-0 by the end of the first quarter while converting all five extra points.
Truman will be a tricky opponent in the GLVC
The Bulldogs travel to Illinois next weekend to open GLVC play at Quincy. Now 3-0 with two FCS victories and a big 35-12 non-conference win against Wayne State (MI) in Week 2, the Bulldogs are one of just two undefeated teams in the GLVC.
What their conference foes have learned quickly in 2019 is that Truman can beat you in so many different ways. Saturday's victory over Valparaiso showed just that. The Bulldogs had not one, but two interception returns for touchdowns with Tanner Lain joining Woods with his own pick-six in that same third quarter. Truman scored just one touchdown in the second quarter and that came on a Spencer Newell 71-yard punt return for a touchdown. Out of the six touchdown scored against FCS opponents in 2019, just two have come from the offense.
That's tough to game plan against. The Nov. 9 showdown against No. 15 Indianapolis is quickly shaping up to be a game with plenty of intrigue and possibly DII football championship tournament implications. But for now, the Bulldogs will sit back and enjoy yet another victory over the FCS as their winning ways continued against the upper division.