Saturday, April 17th, the Missouri Tigers took to the pitch against Truman State University. Hoping to exact revenge for the thrashing they received the last time to the two teams squared off, the game had become a kind of grudge match.
“The last time we played, they beat us 55 to 5. That’s the worst we’ve ever been beaten,” said head coach Eric Wright.
The game began with a rocky start, as before the first kickoff there were already issues to attend to. Due to a miscommunication by University of Missouri Rec Sports Staff, a women’s flag football tournament was being held on the pitch.
“Didn’t you hear?” joked Cameron Wies, “We’re playing girl’s flag football now.”
Once the situation had been resolved and the teams had had adequate time to warm up, the match, though late, began. Unlike the tournament the week before, this game would last the full 80 minutes, 40 minutes to a half.
The bulldogs obtained an early lead, converting the kick to put them up 7-0. Missouri battled back, and after several failed attempts to push the ball down the field, Brett Henderson broke through the Truman line and ran the ball over 20 meters, jumping over the try line at the end. Mike McMillon converted the kick to tie the game.
The teams commenced the attack with renewed vigor, and penalties abounded. Several times players on both sides had to be hushed by teammates before they got in trouble for talking back to the official. Mike Prince was brought out for a blood sub 30 minutes into the match, though he was subbed back in before the allotted 10 minutes were over.
The Tigers scored again on a long break by Aaron Lewis, putting them up 12-7 after McMillon missed the conversion.
It was at this point the Bulldog offense woke up, going on a run of 13 uncontested points. In that span, Tedd Dunn, Wies and Prince were taken out of the game due to injuries, a shoulder for Wies and Dunn and a broken nose for Prince.
Missouri fought back, attempting the comeback, and scoring one last try, though missing the conversion, making the score 20-17, Truman. Though the Tigers never gave up, Truman ultimately came away with the victory, scoring twice more before it was all over, making the final score 32-17.
The disappointment was tangible in the air after the game, a game every player had hoped to win, as it was the last test of the season. However, Wright tried to keep things positive.
“Good season, boys, good season,” said Wright, standing amongst his players. “Don’t forget, we have a banquet coming up.”
Some players weren’t finished, getting together to go back out and play the “third half”, a sort of scrimmage after the game, that the official from Jefferson City was kind enough to stay and officiate.
“It’s a chance for a lot of the guys who don’t get a chance to play normally to get some time on the field,” said Wies.
The third half, could also be seen as the first half of the next season, as both teams begin training for next fall. Players may also play “sevens” during the summer, a variant of rugby where only seven men are fielded for each team.
“Some of the guys get together and go to tournaments during the summer,” said Matt Brotemarkle, “It should be closer than St. Louis.”