August 30, 2018 Atlanta - Kennesaw State quarterback Chandler Burks (3) tosses the football to Kennesaw State running back Darnell Holland (33) in the first half during the 2018 season opening game against the Kennesaw State at Georgia State Stadium on Thursday, August 30, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Five things to know about Kennesaw State’s win over Clark Atlanta

All three phases were clicking and scoring touchdowns for Kennesaw State on Saturday night in the Owls’ 70-13 win over Clark Atlanta.

While the Owls’ offense led the charge with seven touchdowns, the Kennesaw State defense contributed to the game’s high score with two touchdowns, and another came on a blocked punt.

Here are five things to know about the Owls’ third win of the season:

1. Shaquil Terry impressed 

Kennesaw State running back Shaquil Terry led the Owls in rushing and receiving.

A sophomore from Bessemer, Ala., Terry totaled 37 rushing yards, 70 receiving yards and three total touchdowns.

Terry’s longest run of the game came from a 50-yard touchdown in the third quarter. In the first quarter, he rushed for a 21-yard touchdown to give the Owls their first lead and caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chandler Burks in the second quarter.

Terry was not made available for interviews after the game.

2. Panthers benefited from early Owls turnovers

Clark Atlanta (0-4) got a jump on Kennesaw State, scoring 13 points off turnovers in the first quarter.

The Panthers scored first on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Charles Stafford shortly after recovering a fumble by Kennesaw State running back Darnell Holland on Kennesaw State’s 30-yard line. Holland never quite controlled the handoff from Burks and fumbled on the Owls’ 25-yard line. 

“They’re fired up, man,” coach Brian Bohannon said of Clark Atlanta. “They’re a Division II program coming to play a Division I program, they’re going to be on cloud-nine and they did and they converted and you know it dominoes a little bit with another turnover on a punt return. … But I think our kids just settled down and played and once we eliminated the turnovers we were able to move the ball and score.”

The Owls were able to strike on their next possession, marching 68 yards behind Burks, who went 1-for-1 passing for 15 yards and rushed for 15 yards on the drive that was capped by Burks’ 8-yard touchdown run.

Burks finished the game 6-for-11 passing for 53 yards and one touchdown, and he rushed for 52 yards and two touchdowns before he was replaced by Daniel David in the third quarter. Quarterbacks Tommy Bryant and Donovan Taitt also played a few snaps late in the fourth quarter.

At the end of the Panthers’ next possession, Kennesaw State committed another turnover when Kyle Glover touched the ball on a punt play at Kennesaw State’s 25-yard line, but Clark Atlanta’s Tyrone Mixon recovered the ball. The Panthers went on to score on a 25-yard pass and take a 13-7 lead. 

“We got our energy up,” safety Jace White said of the Owls’ play as the game went on. “At first we came out flat so that was a big part of turning it around and getting things going.”

3. Owls scored 28 points off turnovers

Kennesaw State returned two interceptions for touchdowns. White returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, and Demetrius Pettway returned one 56 yards in the fourth quarter.

White’s gave the Owls a 28-13 lead and was the Owls’ second interception of the game. Safety Adesola Abisoye intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned the ball 41 yards earlier in the second quarter. Terry’s catch for a touchdown ended the drive.

Stafford, who finished 10-for-27 passing for 140 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, was replaced by Elijah Odom immediately after White’s interception, but re-entered the game late in the third quarter.

“When we were able to get a little pressure on the quarterback, he would make some errant throws, and he did a couple times, and I think that helped us,” Bohannon said of Stafford. “At times we weren’t getting pressure, and he was able to step up and make some throws early on, but I thought we got a little bit of pressure. He put the ball up, and we were able to make some plays.”

4. Special teams scored a touchdown off a blocked punt

Since Bohannon began to place additional emphasis on special-teams play in practice two weeks ago, the Owls have made big plays during returns.

On Saturday, the Owls’ special teams continued to impress, such as when Caleb O’Neal blocked a Clark Atlanta punt in the third quarter. The ball was recovered by Courtney Mills and returned one yard for a touchdown, giving the Owls a 49-13 lead.

“It’s stuff we practice and it’s good to see it happen in a game and kids take stuff you do in practice to a game because sometimes that’s a challenge,” Bohannon said of the Owls’ blocked punt and resulting touchdown.

5. Kennesaw State limits Clark Atlanta ground game

Kennesaw State allowed Clark Atlanta only 44 rushing yards.

The Panthers, who recorded 148 receiving yards against the Owls, averaged 102.3 rushing yards per game entering Saturday.

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