Truman State football to face high scoring Morningside Saturday


Truman State will look to contain one of the most prolific offenses in college football when they travel to Sioux City, Iowa to face nationally ranked Morningside College on Saturday.

The Mustangs have averaged a whopping 724 yards in their first two wins of the year and were ranked fourth in the NAIA preseason coaches poll. Quarterback Trent Solsma has thrown for 469 yards and nine touchdowns in two games while completing 78% of his passes. His top target has been Connor Niles with 20 catches, four touchdowns and 485 yards.

The Bulldogs scored first in their season opener against Michigan Tech and got a 75-yard run by quarterback Jaden Barr to tie things up at 14 apiece in the first quarter

. However, Michigan Tech scored 24 straight points in the final three quarters and shutdown the Truman offense in picking up a 38-14 win on Thursday night.

Barr finished with 116 yards on 12 rushing attempts, with 108 coming in the first half. Barr's 75-yard rush in the first quarter matched the sixth longest run from scrimmage by a Bulldog and longest by a quarterback.

The previous long by a Truman QB was 74 by Dusty Burk against Missouri Southern in 2002. Barr completed 12-of-17 passes for 79 yards and another touchdown to true freshman tight end Jake Ellis.

This will be the second meeting between the Bulldogs and Mustangs. The first came in 1992 when Morningside came to Kirksville for the season opener. The Bulldogs edged out the Mustangs 25-21 in a game that was delayed by lightning for a good chunk of the afternoon.

COACHES…Truman is led by Gregg Nesbitt in his eighth year at his alma mater and has a 38-39 overall record. Nesbitt is fifth on the all-time victories list at Truman and is the sixth Bulldog taskmaster to have also played and lettered for the team he now leads. Steve Ryan is in his 16th season at Morningside and has guided the Mustangs to a 142-39 record and 13 consecutive post-season appearances in the NAIA.

MORE ABOUT THE MUSTANGS…Morningside was in the national championship game in 2012, falling in overtime to Marian 30-27 and then advanced to the semifinals of the NAIA in the next three seasons.

Last year, they lost in the quarterfinal round 42-35 to Saint Francis.

FAMILIAR FOE…The leading running back for Morningside is former Southwest Baptist rusher Bubba Jenkins…Jenkins ran for 125 yards against the Bulldogs in 2015 while also catching three passes for 15 yards. In 2016, Jenkins was held to 69 yards on 23 attempts and no scores. Jenkins was a second team Don Hansen All-America running back for SBU last season with school records of 1,739 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns, he was the GLVC's leading career rusher.

HOUGHTON TIDBITS… It was Jaden Barr's first 100-yard rushing game as a Bulldog, Truman had only one, 100-yard game by a back last year in Jordan Salima (125) against Lincoln. The Bulldog record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback is 160 by Dusty Burk at Drake in 2002. Only three other Truman quarterbacks have gained 100-yards rushing in a contest, Burk (three times), Phil Davis (twice) and Matt Ticich (twice).

MORE HOUGHTON…The Bulldogs were 1-of-14 on third downs and 0-of-7 in the second half. Last year, the fewest third downs in a game came against Grand Valley State with three. Truman averaged over 40% on third downs last season.

AGAINST THE NAIA…This will be the fourth game against an NAIA opponent in the last five years.

The Bulldogs knocked off #20 William Penn 24-23 in 2013, defeated Langston 17-12 in 2014 and won at Saint Francis (Ill.) 24-20 in 2015. Prior to 2013, the previous game against an NAIA team was in 1993 against Iowa Wesleyan. Morningside will return the visit and play in Kirksville for week two next season.

Courtesy Truman State University

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