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 Presbyterian

Kennesaw State began Atlantic Sun Conference play Saturday with a 56-0 shutout victory against Presbyterian College.

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. Burks scored four touchdowns

Kennesaw State quarterback Chandler Burks finished with 135 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries for the second time in his career.

“All the things (Burks) brings to the equation, the leadership, the coach on the field, executing when we need to execute. He’s just really done a phenomenal job and I know he’ll continue to do that to lead our offense and lead our team,” Owls coach Brian Bohannon said after the game.

Burks’ most impressive run of the game was on the Owls’ first possession of the second half when he ran 38 yards, scoring his fourth rushing touchdown of the day.

Burks, who also was 4-of-7 passing for 53 yards and one touchdown, exited the game after his third-quarter touchdown run and was replaced by backup quarterback Daniel David.

2. David led Owls to 14 points

With the Owls leading 35-0 when he entered the game, David led the Owls 60 yards for a touchdown in just over a minute on his first drive.

On the second play of the drive, David threw his only pass of the day and hit wide receiver Xavier Harper in single coverage for 43 yards. The Owls scored on a 12-yard run by running back Isaac Foster on the next play.

David finished with 13 yards rushing and one touchdown on four carries before Tommy Bryant and Donovan Taitt played a few snaps each in the fourth quarter.

“I think the reps are monumental. To get those guys in and play because next year those guys are going to be thrust in the limelight, so I think those reps, you can’t put a price tag on them,” Bohannon said of his backup quarterbacks.

Kennesaw State (5-1, 1-0 Atlantic Sun) totaled 485 rushing yards, 208 coming from the third quarter. 

3. Owls defense strangled Blue Hose

After shutting out Presbyterian for the first half, Kennesaw State’s defense finished the game allowing 141 total yards, 18 of them rushing.

The Blue Hose (2-2, 0-1) entered the red zone once after a 66-yard pass to Keith Pearson from quarterback Jordan Morgan, but Pearson fumbled the ball on a run three plays later. The ball was forced by Owls’ Andrew Butcher then recovered by Desmond Johnson Jr. and returned 12 yards. The Owls, who totaled 14 points off turnovers, eventually scored off the fumble on a 1-yard run by David.

“We always put a big emphasis on getting a shutout,” Anthony Gore Jr. said. “We always put a big emphasis on not giving up any first downs and as long as we handle the little things, the big things will come, like a shutout, they’re going to come as long as we do our job first.”

Gore finished with a team-high of four tackles and one sack.

Presbyterian entered the game averaging 17 points and 166 passing yards, but the Owls limited Morgan and starting quarterback John Walker to 123 yards through the air. 

4. Owls got out of a first-and-35 situation

After a holding and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties backed Kennesaw State up to their own 5-yard line late in the second quarter, the Owls marched 95 yards to score a touchdown and extend their lead to 28-0.

Burks rushed 10 yards on first down then threw a pass that was bobbled by Jake McKenzie on the next play, forcing the Owls to convert on third-and-25. On the third-down play, Presbyterian cornerback Dirk Cureton was called for a pass-interference penalty as Burks launched the ball toward Harper, giving the Owls a fresh set of downs on their own 30-yard line.

Harper finished the game as the Ows’ leader in receiving yards, with 47.

Burks scored his third rushing touchdown of the game 10 plays later on a 3-yard run.

“We just line up, play and continue to try and do what we’re going to do what we do. … Obviously you don’t want to put yourself in that situation, but it’s going to happen, and how you handle it really makes you who you are,” Bohannon said of the third-and-long his offense powered through. 

5. Kennesaw State scored first touchdown in two plays 

Kennesaw State scored the game’s first touchdown after defensive back Dorian Walker recorded an interception on Presbyterian’s first possession and returned it 26 yards just outside the red zone. The Owls offense took over for 14 seconds, running two plays: a run by Darnell Holland and then a 25-yard touchdown reception by Holland.

Holland finished with 43 rushing yards on seven carries.

Kennesaw State will travel to face Garner-Webb at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

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