The Truman Bulldogs begin their quest for a conference title on Saturday when they face Quincy (Ill.) University in the first Great Lakes Valley Conference game at 1:00 p.m. from Flynn Stadium.
Despite a tradition-rich rivalry that the Bulldogs and Hawks share in a majority of sports, the two football teams have met just three times in the past.
The first meeting was the only loss handed to the Bulldogs in the 1951 season finale.
The Hawks won 43-12 at home as Truman finished 7-1-1 in Red Wade's first season on the sideline.
The two teams played a home and home series in 2001 and 2002 that was dominated by the Bulldogs.
Truman outscored the Hawks 120-21 in the two games and put up nearly 1000 yards of total offense.
The 2001 game at Quincy was a 51-7 victory while the 2002 contest in Kirksville was decided 69-14.
The Hawks have spent the majority of their years on the gridiron as a member of the NAIA while Truman has been an NCAA Division II member since the subdivision formed in 1973.
The Bulldogs and Central Missouri Mules battled for three quarters on Saturday night with Truman entering the final 15 minutes down 20-16 with the football.
An errant snap on a punt that led to a safety and three straight Central touchdowns led to a 44-23 Truman loss.
Truman is led offensively by junior running back Garrett White, senior wide receiver Dallas Grier and senior quarterback Conrad Schottel.
White is averaging 106.8 yards per game and a 7.1 yards per carry average while Grier has caught 24 passes for 271 yards. Schottel has completed 55% of his passes for 529 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, redshirt freshman Austin Zoda leads the team with 44 total tackles while junior Matthew Bell is second with 32 total stops and has one of the team's three interceptions.
The Hawks cracked the win column for the first time in 2013 with a 36-7 non-conference victory over Lindenwood-Belleville on Saturday afternoon.
Wide receiver Justin Dickens earned GLVC Offensive Player of the Week honors after hauling in seven catches for 190 yards including an 86-yard touchdown reception and a 52-yard TD strike from quarterback Nick Lonergan.
Quincy was second in the GLVC in time of possession at nearly 34 minutes per game while first in redzone offense at 91.7% going 11-of-12.
Lonergan is fifth in the league in total offensie at 220.5/game and Dickens is third in receiving yards at 89.0.
Gregg Nesbitt is in his fourth season as head coach of his alma mater. Nesbitt has gone 4-7 in the three previous years for an overall record of 14-23.
Nesbitt's teams were 7-21 in MIAA games the past three seasons and are 6-11 away from Kirksville.
Tom Pajic guided the Hawks to a 3-8 record in his first season on the sidelines in the Gem City.
The Hawks allowed 32 points per game while scoring 18.5 per contest. Quincy was 3-5 in GLVC play last year and return eight all-conference players led by second team selections, running back LaDarion Shelby and Justin Dickens on offense and defensive players Tyler Reidl and Zach Vath.
Truman is 540-387-34 (.580) all-time since 1900. The .580 winning percentage is the best by any NCAA I Football playing school in the state of Missouri. Next highest is Northwest Missouri State at (.565).
The Bulldogs are ranked fourth in Division II in kick returns averaging 30.8 per. Tremaine Millender is third with his 40.0 yard return average, while Aaron Hartfield is 15th with a 31.9 return average.
Truman has had five kick returns go for over 50 yards through the first four games. Millender has a 100 and 54 yard return,
Harfield has a 68 and 59 yard return and Garrett White has a 52 yard return. Eight kick returns take up the 15 Truman plays that have gone for over 30 yards.
Jacob Lamp is 10th in Division II with a 44.0 yard punt average and the Bulldogs are sixth in net punting average with a 41.3 mark.
Just two of the 16 punts by Lamp have been returned for a total of two yards.
The Bulldogs are 10th in the nation in fewest penalties per game at 4.5 for 40.7 yards.
The Truman defense did not gain a turnover in Saturday's loss against Central Missouri which broke a string of 33 straight games the Truman has forced a turnover.
The Bulldogs have forced a turnover in all but three games since Kellen Nesbitt took over as defensive coordinator in 2010.
Garrett White is second in the GLVC in rushing yards with 427 and 106.8/game. White is averaging 7.1 per carry and is on pace to become Truman's first 1000 yard rusher since Jerard Leverson ran for 1012 in 2003.
Dallas Grier moved into third place all-time in Truman receptions and receiving yards following Saturday's game.
Grier passed Fontaine Walker in receptions and now has 185 for his career with eyes on second place Rich Otte's 206 catches from 1989-1992.
Grier's 2,444 yards receving moved him past Russell Evans's total of 2,387 from 1983-86. He is 450 yards away from Otte's career yards for second place.
Bulldogs In Conference Openers:
Truman is 55-29-2, all under the Mid-America or Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Association banner, in conference openers.
Last year, the Bulldogs won 24-14 over Southwest Baptist to break an 11-game losing streak in league openers.
Overall, Truman has played 961 football games, with 521 being conference games.
Truman/Northeast Missouri played 333 games under the league known as the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Association from 1912-1992 while another 188 games in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
The Bulldogs overall conference record during that span was 300-201-20 with a league-high 26 conference titles.
GLVC Preseason Poll:
In the league poll, voted on by conference coaches and released in August as part of the GLVC Kickoff event, the Bulldogs were picked to finish third in their first season in the league.
Defending champion, the University of Indianapolis was the overwhelming favorite to repeat while second place Missouri S&T was chosen second.
The Quincy Hawks were picked sixth out of the eight teams in the conference. The Hawks garnered 18 points to trail Saint Joseph's and McKendree.
Courtesy Truman State University