The Heart of America became an even more difficult conference to predict Saturday, with Arkansas and Kansas State winning. K-State beating Truman State wasn't the surprise, rather it was the winning margin of just two points.
The Wildcats won the West-Central league, which contained many of the same teams as the HOA, last season, and Truman State fell victim to Kansas by the score of 62-8 last week. K-State has been superior to the Jayhawks the last few seasons, so a more lopsided win could have been expected.
"They came out pretty aggressive," said K-State senior Kenny Scott. "We were pretty lackadaisical from playing 7s all semester. This is like out first true 15s game, so it was just different getting everybody up to speed, waking up and playing like we actually wanted to win it."
The Wildcats led 15-13 at halftime, and slotted a penalty to open the second half, but Truman repeatedly answered K-State scores with its own. The Bulls and Wildcats were tied three times in the second stanza, at 18, 23 and 30.
The last stalemate was broken just two minutes before the final whistle when Scott recovered a loose ball and raced it long-range for a converted try to put K-State up 37-30. Truman rebutted with a try from No. 8 Nick Budd in injury time, but the conversion attempt failed, allowing the Wildcats to escape Kirksville, Mo. 37-35 winners.
"It’s one of those games where you’re happy with the way people played, but you’re not really happy with the outcome," said Truman State coach Bill Sexton. "We had conversions that we didn’t make, things we didn’t do. It is what it is. We’re still trying to get better."
In the HOA's other game, the Jayhawks regressed after the aforementioned 54-point beating of Truman State with a 23-13 home loss to Arkansas. Both programs are in their first year in DI in at least three seasons. The Razorbacks, two-time defending HOA (LAU) DII champs, showed they're up to the challenge of playing at the higher level.