Kennesaw State’s came away with a mostly easy 38-0 victory over Charleston Southern on Saturday afternoon at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. It was the Owls’ first win against the Buccaneers, having the lost the two previous meetings between the teams.
Here are five observations from the game:
If you’re winning 90 percent of the time, you’re doing something right. The Owls are 9-1 and 4-0 in the Big South. KSU is riding a school record nine-game winning streak. It entered Saturday averaging 29.5 points a game during the streak, but its defense was the best asset against the Buccaneers.
“It’s a great win,” coach Brian Bohannon said. “The way we came out to beat a team we hadn’t beaten since we started this program. … We were in charge of the game from the get-go. Shut them out, which is hard to do period, much less a conference opponent. That was huge. … It’s a good night for the Owls.
Led by quarterback Chandler Burks, KSU has the nation’s 21st most prolific offense. Its rushing offense is No. 1 in the FCS at 331.2 yards per game. It’s converting 49 percent of the time on third downs. Add in their clock-control tendencies, and the Owls have the perfect recipe.
“They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Bohannon said. “I’m proud of the way they’re going about their business right now. This happens during the week. This doesn’t happen on Saturday. That’s what I’m really trying to teach them.”
Defense wins championships
The triple-option offense absorbs most of the conversation, and understandably so. But the Owls’ defense over the past month has been phenomenal.
Jace White and McKenzie Billingslea had interceptions, while Bryson Armstrong and Peyton Moore forced fumbles. The defense has allowed 17 points across the past four games, which equates to an astonishing 4.25 points per contest.
Anthony Gore led the defense with eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
“We dominated up front,” Bohannon said. “I don’t feel like they were really able to get anything going consistently.”
It seems every week, a new player steps up for the Owls.
This one was a total team effort, but Darnell Holland particularly shined. The back had 120 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. He was responsible for the Owls’ first three scores.
“Personally, Coach instilled respect this game,” Holland said. “So for me, being part of those two losses, I have a little revenge I guess. So just come out here and leave it all on the field.”
Shaquil Terry added 67 yards on 11 rushes. T.J. Reed had 42 on six touches. Tommy Bryant had one 51-yard burst to the end zone. The team finished with 343 yards on the ground.
“We got a bunch of guys who are unselfish,” Bohannon said. “They just want to win. That’s just the way it kind of goes for us depending on what they’re doing. … They’re playing for one another and their teammates, being unselfish and doing whatever it takes to win.”
KSU is now 23-9 in its three seasons of existence. It entered this season with 14 wins, the third-most of any Division I program in its first two seasons. KSU and Old Dominion are the only two programs since 2008 to begin with three winning seasons.
At 52 degrees, Saturday was the coldest game in KSU history.
Winner take all
The Owls have one regular-season game remaining against Monmouth on Nov. 18. The game will be for the Big South title. The Bucs were eliminated from contention with Saturday’s loss.
With Monmouth’s 41-14 victory over Gardner-Webb, the teams currently share the Big South lead with undefeated records. The Owls have at least one clear advantage next week: They’re 5-0 at The Nest this season.
“It’s very special,” Gore said. “Coming in, these starting years, it’s just all in place. … We built it from nothing. We built this from the floor up. That’s really what keeps us driving because most foundations are already built when you get there, so it just makes it that much more special. We have unfinished business still.”