Truman edges St. Joe Central with late push
By Mike Genet The Examiner
Even after touchdowns on all four of its first-half possessions and with no punts overall, Truman still had to rally in the fourth quarter Friday against visiting Central.
But rally it did, as Jordan Salima’s 2-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes, 43 seconds remaining capped an 89-yard drive, and the Patriots overcame third straight second-half turnovers and held on for a 35-32 win in their Suburban Blue opener at Independence All-School Stadium.
The Patriots’ clutch drive covered those 89 yards in just eight plays, as Salima ripped off a 43-yard run to the Central 35 and scored six plays later. Truman (2-1) then stuffed a pair of runs and forced a Central punt and gained a pair of first downs to kneel out the game.
“I really thought the way they were moving the ball, I didn’t think we would stop them,” Truman coach Gregg Webb said. “They had too many men twice on the same drive, so we caught some breaks, but we gave them a couple breaks.
“Us finding a way to win that game shows monumental growth. I question our kids’ toughness sometimes, but they showed a little heart and somehow got it done.”
Salima finished with 225 yards on 24 carries, and quarterback Dean Clemons tallied 220 yards on 21 tries, boosted by pair of big TD runs. Fullback Juan Flores chipped in 40 yards on 10 totes, as the Patriots racked up 549 rushing yards.
“Our offense was moving the ball all day. The only thing stopping us was ourselves,” Webb said. “Our offensive line was good, and I expect them to be good. In the first half our backs made some moves for big runs, but in the second half they blocked.”
Trailing 28-10 at halftime, Central (0-3) got right back into the game in the third quarter.
After stopping the Patriots on downs at the 30, the Indians scored six plays later when Gage Stagner hauled in a 26-yard pass from Jacob Hess. Drew Pecora intercepted a Salima pass, and Israel Smith’s 43-yard run set up Hess’ 12-yard option keeper for a score, making it 28-25 late in the third.
Salima then lost a fumble on a big run, and Smith’s 2-yard touchdown capped an eight-play drive to give Central the lead with 10:57 left in the game.
The Indians had a chance to add on when Flores lost a fumble near midfield. Another Hess-Stagner connection went for 21 yards, but twice the Indians got flagged for 12 men on the field and ultimately had to punt, setting up Truman’s last scoring drive.
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