While Saturday’s game against Samford wasn’t as high-scoring as Kennesaw State’s past three contests, the Owls continued to dominate on offense in their 24-10 win at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
Here are five things to know about the game:
1. Kennesaw State totaled 286 yards
Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said earlier in the week he thought his team would face the toughest defense they’ve faced this season against Samford, but the Owls were able to run on the Bulldogs, totaling 286 total yards and no turnovers in the win.
In the first half, Kennesaw State (4-1) felt the pressure of Samford senior defensive linemen Horace Roberts and Ahmad Gooden, but the Owls were able to find success pitching the ball and running outside as the game went on, totaling 220 rushing yards.
Samford (1-4) entered Saturday allowing opponents 116 rushing yards. Kennesaw State totaled 113 rushing yards in the first half.
“We took a step forward to playing the kind of football we’re capable of playing here,” Bohannon said. “We didn’t beat ourselves. We didn’t play perfect, but we made some strides in all three phases.”
Quarterback Chandler Burks led the Owls in rushing with 55 yards and two touchdowns. Burks also was 5-of-12 passing for 66 yards and one touchdown.
2. Isaac Foster contributed with two big plays
Kennesaw State returner and running back Isaac Foster totaled only 33 yards, but those came on two big plays in the first half, both of which set up the Owls for touchdowns.
The first was a 14-yard run in the first quarter that set up the Owls for their first touchdown two plays later. The second was a 19-yard run that put the Owls on the Samford 9-yard line and led to the Owls’ second score of the game on the following play.
Foster also totaled nine yards on punt returns against Samford.
After a three-touchdown game against Clark Atlanta a week prior, Kennesaw State running back Shaq Terry also contributed to the Owls’ rushing total Saturday, recording 47 yards on eight carries.
3. Owls defense limited Bulldogs offense
Samford’s offense entered the game averaging 485.4 yards and 34 points, but fell short of both those marks against the young Kennesaw State defense.
Allowing only one field goal in the game’s first 57 minutes and a late touchdown, Kennesaw State limited Samford to 272 yards and two trips inside the red zone.
The Bulldogs, who averaged 372.4 passing yards over the past four games, were led by senior quarterback Devlin Hodges, who finished 21-of-34 passing for 150 yards.
Bohannon called Hodges the most dangerous quarterback he’s been around in recent memory.
“We had a good plan, but the whole thing is, you just got to make them earn it,” Bohannon said. “They’re going to complete some passes, tackle them, get them on the ground and make them earn it. Running the ball is not their thing.”
4. Owls opened second half with 72-yard return
Darnell Holland was responsible for the game’s most thrilling moment when he took the second half’s opening kickoff 72 yards down the field.
Holland’s return set up the Owls to score seven plays later on a 4-yard run by Burks, giving the Owls a 21-3 lead.
“That’s a huge momentum (booster),” Burks said. “We come out and we kind of put our foot on their throat at that point. Our goal coming in the game was to start fast in each half. Scoring in the first half when we get the ball and coming in the second half, that gave us great position.”
Holland finished the game with 107 total yards, including 15 rushing yards, and led the Owls with 20 receiving yards.
5. KSU enters conference play next week
Kennesaw State plays the final of four consecutive home games Saturday as they host Presbyterian to kick off conference play.
Bohannon and Burks agreed that while defeating Samford was a step forward in the team putting together a game in all three phases, the Owls still have much to improve before conference play begins.
“We made a step toward where we want to go and we saw some glimpses of our standard of football, but we’re not there,” Burks said.
The first of consecutive conference games for Kennesaw State begins at 2 p.m. at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.