Kennesaw State’s defense led the football team to a dominant victory Saturday, Nov. 16, forcing five turnovers against the Hampton University Pirates.
Many players made an impact for KSU, as six different Owls scored a touchdown and five more had a takeaway. Quarterback Tommy Bryant led the offense with 233 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns. The game was Bryant’s first start of the season, as he stepped in for an injured Daniel David.
After receiving the opening kickoff, KSU wasted little time on its first possession. Just under four minutes into the game, junior running back Shaquil Terry scored a 15-yard touchdown.
Down 7-0, the Pirates’ offense looked to even the scoring on its first drive. The attack was stopped by senior defensive back Le’Vonte Larry, who intercepted a Hampton pass and returned it for 20 yards. The third-down takeaway was the senior’s first interception as an Owl.
On the next possession, KSU’s offense would take advantage of the early turnover. Bryant carried the ball four times for 27 yards and a touchdown, putting the Owls up 14-0 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Pinned deep in its own territory by a fumbled kick return, Hampton was forced to punt yet again. Two plays later, a 40-yard touchdown from senior running back Bronson Rechsteiner would extend the KSU lead to 21-0.
The second quarter began with Hampton taking the field at its own 35-yard line. The Pirates’ struggles would continue, as the KSU defense forced another three-and-out.
The Owls’ offense also carried its momentum into the second quarter, quickly building the KSU lead. On his first attempted pass of the game, Bryant found a wide-open Caleb O’Neal for a 67-yard touchdown, setting the score at 28-0.
Just three plays later, KSU’s defense would force Hampton’s second turnover of the half. Sophomore linebacker Demetrius Pettway picked up his first interception of the season, setting sophomore kicker Nathan Robertson up for a 32-yard field goal.
Hampton’s offense failed to pick up a first down on its first four possessions of the game, throwing two interceptions and punting twice before finally moving the chains in the second quarter. After finding some success in the passing game, the Pirates mishandled a field goal attempt, returning possession to the Owls.
After ending each of its first five drives with a scoring play, KSU entered halftime with a 31-0 lead.
“I loved the enthusiasm — loved the energy,” head coach Brian Bohannon said after the first half. “Everybody’s engaged in the game … they had a little drive at the end, but we found a way.”
After Hampton began the second half with another punt, junior running back Kyle Glover scored a one-yard touchdown to bring the score to 37-0.
On the next KSU drive, Bryant connected with Terry for a 66-yard completion, leading to a one-yard touchdown by senior running back Kevin Ficklin. Midway through the third quarter, the Owls led 43-0.
The Pirates prevented a shutout with a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 43-7. In the fourth quarter, senior KSU running back TJ Reed answered with an 8-yard touchdown.
KSU held the Pirates scoreless in the fourth quarter, forcing three turnovers. Freshman defensive lineman Demetric Barnes and sophomore defensive lineman Travis Bell each recovered a fumble, and an interception by sophomore defensive back Cole Loden closed out the game.
The Owls won the game, 50-7.
“We talked all week about bringing the energy in all phases of the game,” linebacker Bryson Armstrong told the Marietta Daily Journal after the game. “I thought we did that pretty well on defense.”
KSU will complete its regular season by hosting Gardner-Webb University at Fifth Third Bank Stadium Saturday, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m.
Garrett Barton III contributed to this article.