The Owls continued their successful season Saturday, defeating the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs 17-3 to extend their school-record winning streak to six games.
For the second time this season, running back Jake McKenzie set a new personal best for rushing yards, gaining 119 of KSU’s 319 yards on the ground to lead the Owls to victory.
Quarterback Chandler Burks had a productive night through the air and on the ground, accounting for 213 total yards, including a 53-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Harper.
Defensively, the Owls held the Bulldogs to a single field goal and forced three interceptions. KSU had a much better all-around performance than last year’s meeting between the teams.
The Bulldogs put up 481 yards of total offense in last season’s matchup but were held to 248 yards this time around after head coach Brian Bohannon emphasized the need to shutdown Gardner-Webb’s dynamic quarterback, Tyrell Maxwell.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Owls went on to score all 17 of their points in the second quarter. A 36-yard field goal by Justin Thompson opened scoring for the game, and the KSU defense then forced a quick three-and-out to set up Burks and the offense.
The ensuing drive took just two plays, the second being the 53-yard strike from Burks to Harper to extend the lead to 10-0. The final drive of the half saw the Owls score a second touchdown on a short run by Burks.
Penalties prevented the Owls from any further scoring in the game, with the offense and defense combining for 14 committed penalties for 144 yards. The offense moved into the Bulldog’s red zone on their first drive of the second half but was unable to score after three major penalties cost them field position.
However, the Owls’ defense held their ground and kept the lead intact for the rest of the game.
“I’m awfully proud of our defense,” Bohannon said. “I can’t say enough about our defense, and I thought they went out and played really well tonight. Sometimes you have to find a way when things just aren’t right…especially offensively.”
Heading into next week’s conference matchup at Presbyterian, much of the focus and preparation will be on avoiding penalties.
The Blue Hose (3-4, 0-1 Big South) are coming off a close loss Charleston Southern and are seeking their first Big South Conference win. KSU will be looking to win its seventh-consecutive game and further bolster their position both in the polls and for a postseason playoff berth.
Offensively, the Owls will continue to use a multitude of rushing options to attack the opposing defense and will hope to free up wide receiver Justin Sumpter, who had a couple of great catches again against Gardner-Webb.
The Owls will need a repeat performance from Bryson Armstrong and Izzy Sam, who led the defense with seven tackles apiece against the Bulldogs.
The Owls take on Presbyterian Saturday, Oct. 28 in Clinton, South Carolina at 2 p.m.