The Kennesaw State football team earned its second win of the season Saturday night after the defense held Alabama State’s offense in check, leading the Owls to a 20-14 victory over the Hornets in Montgomery.
A week after head coach Brian Bohannon emphasized the need for the defense to play more aggressively, they did just that. Although ASU scored as many points as Tennessee Tech did last week, the overall performance by the Owls’ defense was visibly better. KSU held the Hornets to just 195 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers.
The standout performance from the defensive unit once again came from redshirt freshman Bryson Armstrong who continues to impress every week. Armstrong set a single-game school record of 15 tackles, as well as tallying an interception.
Offensively, the Owls did just enough early in the game to put themselves ahead but were not operating at the fast and flowing pace they are accustomed to.
After posting 17 points in the first half, a mix of penalties and turnovers contributed to a frustrating second half, in which the Owls were only able to increase their lead by three points. The most positive aspect of the night was a combined 243 rushing yards from the Owls offense, which helped establish the lead.
On an early offensive possession, KSU had a big play called back after a 46-yard pass from Chandler Burks to Darnell Holland was deemed by referees to have been thrown from in front of the line of scrimmage. With just under three minutes remaining in the quarter, Keon Roman intercepted the ball for KSU and set the offense up for what would be their first scoring drive. Trey Chivers would go on to run 11 yards for a KSU touchdown in the first minute of the second quarter.
A lapse of concentration from a generally focused Owls defense allowed ASU to execute its only major offensive play of the game, a 41-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 7-7.
Later in the quarter, Armstrong’s interception would put KSU’s offense in great field position, and Shaquil Terry ran the ball into the end zone from 25 yards out to put the Owls back in the lead. KSU ended the first half with a 37-yard field goal to make it 17-7 at halftime.
The second half turned into a stalemate, where both teams committed a number of penalties and turnovers. After a second field goal, the Owls had a number of chances to put the game away as the defense continued to play well. With 5:40 left in the third quarter, redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel David threw an interception on a pass intended for Justin Sumpter.
On the next play, the Hornets’ quarterback threw an interception to Keon Roman. A few minutes later, Terry fumbled the ball to give it right back to ASU, but the Hornets then turned the ball over on downs. This constant back-and-forth of turnovers culminated in a fumble recovery returned by ASU for a touchdown, making the score 20-14 after three quarters.
The Owls were just able to hold on for victory, as sacks by Armstrong and Anthony Gore Jr. thwarted a comeback drive by the Hornets in the fourth quarter.
“Defensively in the second half, as a unit, was about as good of football you could have played,” Bohannon said. “The defense was repeatedly put in tough situations and they responded with a strong effort. I thought the defense did a fabulous job in the second half.”
After a bye week to rest and work on strategy, the Owls play non-conference opponent North Greenville on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 3:30 p.m. at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.