FHSU Tigers fall at Truman

The Fort Hays State football team played their first road game of the season on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 10) at Truman in Kirksville, Mo. The Tigers outgained the Bulldogs by nearly 100 yards, and had nearly three times as many rushing yards, but miscues by FHSU proved costly as Truman downed the Tigers 36-31.


Fort Hays State got the ball to begin the game, but a quick three-and-out forced the Tigers to punt, and the Bulldogs' Anthony Brown was able to get to the Ethan Kosjer punt and block it, setting up Truman with the ball at the FHSU 19 yard line. Truman would quickly capitalize, scoring on their third play from scrimmage on an 18-yard pass from J.B. Clark to Paul Taylor giving them an early 7-0 lead with 11:32 to play in the first quarter.


FHSU would start their next drive at the Truman 12 yard line, but needed just seven plays to cash in on a 14-yard touchdown run by Shaun Ohlde. Ohlde's TD run was setup thanks to a 42-yard run by Andre Smith that moved the Tigers down to the Truman 22.


Faced with their first long field, Truman managed to move the ball back into scoring position on their second drive, capitalizing with a 42-yard field goal from Derek Koon to put the Bulldogs back on top at 10-7 with 6:09 to play in the first quarter. The Bulldogs would then force another FHSU punt without allowing a first down and they would begin their next drive at their own 36 yard line. The Bulldogs would again get into scoring range, but the Tigers held them out of the end zone and forced another Koon field goal, this one from 37 yards, making the score 13-7 in favor of Truman.


Anthony Sheppard saw his first action at quarterback as a Tiger on the next drive, but he was unable to generate any offense, as FHSU would once again punt without gaining a first down. This time, the Tiger defense was unable to keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone, with Truman capping off a 14-play, 69-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Clark to Dallas Grier which put the Bulldogs on top 20-7 early in the second quarter.


The Fort Hays State offense finally began to find a groove on their next drive, driving the ball 62 yards in nine plays before Sheppard was intercepted by Kyle Whitcher of the Bulldogs in the end zone. The Tiger defense held strong, forcing Truman to punt three plays later and put the ball back in the hands of Sheppard and the offense. Andre Smith caught a pass from Sheppard on third and seven which he took for a first down all the way to the Truman 27 which set up a 27-yard touchdown run by Edward Smith on the very next play which cut the lead to 20-14 with 4:38 to play in the half.


The teams would trade three-and-outs on their next drive, with Truman taking over again at their own 18 yard line with 1:42 to play in the half. Clark was intercepted on the second play of the drive by FHSU defensive back Kedron Paul which set the Tigers up with the ball at the Truman 35. It would not take long for the offense to convert, with Anthony Smith catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from Blake McAhern with 19 seconds remaining in the first half. The extra point from Tyler Kimbrough gave the Tigers a 21-20 lead heading into the intermission.


Both teams' offenses came out of the break slowly, with the first two drives of the second half by both teams lasting no more than six plays. The Bulldogs returned a 42-yard punt by Kosjer 58 yards to the FHSU 19, setting up a 20-yard Koon field goal to put the Bulldogs back in front 23-21. Fort Hays State then put together one of their longest drives of the day, going 46 yards in 10 plays to set up a 27-yard Kimbrough field goal to retake the lead at 24-23. The key play on the drive was a pass from Kosjer to Andre Smith on a 4th and 11 fake punt which gained 22 yards and moved the Tigers to the Truman 34.


After the Tiger defense forced another three-and-out, the offense would strike quickly. Facing 2nd and 17 at their own 17, Andre Smith busted off an 83-yard touchdown run which gave FHSU a 31-23 lead with just 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter.


Truman's offense responded quickly with a short field, driving 48 yards in five plays and scoring on a 27-yard Clark pass to Anthony Brown. The Bulldogs went for two to try and tie the game, but the attempt was unsuccessful, leaving FHSU with a 31-29 lead with 13:33 to play in the game. When the Tigers needed to be able to run some clock, they were unable to, as they were forced to punt on their next drive without gaining a first down.


Truman's offense once again came through, with Clark going 4-for-5 on the next drive before rushing the ball in for a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:28 to play, giving the Bulldogs a 36-31 lead. Fort Hays State took over at their 22-yard line to start the next drive and managed to get into Truman territory before the drive stalled out. The Tigers failed to convert a 4th and 5 pass from McAhren to Nelson Vasquez, giving the Bulldogs the ball with the lead and 5:01 to play.


The Fort Hays State defense once again came through; forcing a quick Bulldog punt. However, the return was fumbled by Andre Smithand recovered by Matthew Bell of Truman. The Bulldogs got the ball at the FHSU 37 with 3:07 to play. After gaining a pair of first downs, Truman was able to run out the clock and take the victory 36-31.


The loss spoiled great individual efforts from Andre Smith, who gained 203 yards on the ground in just his second game as a Tiger, and Alex Whitehill, who had a career-high 19 tackles in the losing effort.


Fort Hays State drops to 1-1 overall and in the MIAA following the loss, while Truman improves to 1-1 with their win. FHSU will be at home next Saturday (Sept. 17) to face Southwest Baptist for the annual Tailgreat event.

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