After coming off of a frustrating loss to Samford in the season opener, the Kennesaw State football team beat the Tennessee Tech Eagles 27-14 on Saturday night to earn its first victory of the 2017 season.
With the sun shining and a packed Fifth Third Bank Stadium, head coach Brian Bohannon was able to lead the Owls to redemption in the second game of the season.
A combined 309 rushing yards among eight players allowed KSU’s offense to control the tempo of the game, while five forced turnovers by the defense prevented the Eagles from scoring until the fourth quarter
Running back Darnell Holland and wide receiver Justin Sumpter highlighted the flashy Owls offense. Holland set a new school-record with his 84-yard touchdown run, and Sumpter had his usual knack for incredible catches while also bringing in a touchdown.
Defensively, the rising-star linebacker Bryson Armstrong was spectacular for a second straight game, as he had nine tackles, recovered a fumble and earned the Big South Freshman of the Week Award.
The first score for KSU came two minutes into the game on a 19-yard field goal by Jordan Genovese. This was a result of Dorian Walker’s opening kickoff return of 62 yards out to the Eagles’ 36-yard line.
TTU put together an impressive drive of their own until Brenton Wimberly intercepted the ball for KSU, setting up the offense to redeem themselves. A few runs later, the Owls were threatening the Eagles’ red zone when Trey Chivers scored the first touchdown of the game on a 29-yard run.
The second quarter started slowly until Holland broke for his career-long run. With five minutes left in the half, Holland found space on the edge and never looked back, taking the ball 84 yards for a touchdown and improving the Owls’ lead to 17.
On the ensuing drive by the Eagles, it was obvious that they just wanted to wind down the clock and regroup for the second half, but a fumble with only 36 seconds remaining in the half proved to be costly.
Armstrong recovered the fumble for KSU, and the offense took the field. With minimal time, Sumpter made two incredible catches, and the Owls were able to steal a touchdown before halftime.
KSU scored a field goal in the third quarter to take a 27-0 lead, but in the fourth quarter, the Eagles made an attempt at a late comeback. A fake punt and a slew of defensive penalties by KSU allowed the Eagles to score early in the quarter.
On their next possession, a 41-yard pass and penalties by KSU led to a second touchdown. TTU would have two more chances to score, but interceptions by Taylor Henkle and Dorian Walker sealed the game.
“At the end of the day, we got done what we wanted to accomplish”, said Bohannon. “There’s a lot of positives we can take from tonight and a lot of things we can learn from to continue to be the football team we want to be.”
The Owls went into their home opener against the Eagles hungry for a win after losing 28-23 to Samford on Aug. 31. A three-hour weather delay between halves marred an otherwise entertaining game in Birmingham, with KSU having led 10-7 at halftime.
A combination of tornado warnings, constant lightning and inefficient communication by stadium officials initiated an extended delay that likely contributed to the decrease in quality of play from the Owls in the second half.
The Owls play Saturday, Sept. 16, against Alabama State in Montgomery at 8 p.m. EST.