The Bulldogs had another remarkable football season and played 16 games during the 2021 calendar year. Truman went 3-1 during an abbreviated spring season in which the only loss came in the Great Lakes Valley Conference championship game to the University of Indianapolis.
In the traditional fall season, Truman roared out of the gates with four straight wins, including a 38-35 road win at Tiffin (Ohio) when the Bulldogs trailed 35-17 in the second half and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 26 seconds left after recovering an onside kick.
The team appeared in the national rankings following the win, but it was short-lived as Lindenwood came to Stokes Stadium and handed the Bulldogs their first loss of the season, 31-21.
Truman bounced back with a win at Missouri S&T, 38-21, behind Cody Schrader’s 278 yards rushing. His total was the fifth highest single-game total in school history and was accomplished in only three quarters of work. As a sophomore, Schrader led the nation in rushing with 2,074 yards. The St. Louis native and product of Lutheran South High School was named an American Football Coaches Association first-team All-American after averaging more than 172 yards per game. He was also tops in Division II and second in all NCAA football in touchdowns scored with 26.
The Bulldogs were shocked 27-21 by Southwest Baptist the following week in Bolivar when SBU quarterback Cooper Callis threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Callis would later share the GLVC Offensive Player of the Year award with Schrader after being among the nation’s top passers.
The team took their frustrations out on their next three opponents – William Jewell, Quincy and McKendree – outscoring the trio 145-41 and improving to 8-2 on the season.
For senior day, Indianapolis was again across the field from the Bulldogs, and the two GLVC heavyweights went toe-to-toe in a defensive battle. Schrader ripped off a 76-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs an early lead, but UIndy made the game-winning field goal with 13 seconds remaining, and the Greyhounds left Stokes Stadium with a 13-10 win.
After the NCAA selected conference champion Lindenwood for the Division II tournament, and UIndy declined an invitation to a bowl game, Truman returned to the America’s Crossroads Bowl in Hobart, Indiana, to face Hilldale (Mich.) College for the second time in 2021.
Schrader and Ben Watson were both named the offensive and defensive players of the game respectively, and Truman captured the bowl championship, 34-17.
Head coach Gregg Nesbitt also notched some milestones during the year. He moved past H.L. McWilliams for second on the years of head coaching service list for the Bulldogs as he coached his 12th Truman season this past fall. Nesbitt also moved into second place in all-time wins at the school and sits at 71 following the 9-3 season. Nesbitt passed the legendary Don Faruot (’63) in wins and is 28 back of all-time leader Maurice “Red” Wade for the school record.