Record-breaking crowd sees reunion victory

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KENNESAW, Georgia – The No.13 Kennesaw State Owls claimed a 14-0 victory over Homecoming in front of a record crowd at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The game saw a total of 9,556 fans and 3,097 students. Total attendance and student attendance both set records in the Fifth Bank’s record book.

The Owls (5-1, 2-0 Big South Conference) were led by a strong performance from the team’s defense. Kennesaw State allowed just 31 rushing yards, marking the third lowest in program history. Evan thompson Recorded a career-high for tackles (12) and tackles for loss (3) while helping the defense achieve their first shutout since April 3, 2021 against Robert Morris.

second-year quarterback Xavier berger led the Owls offense and had a 6-for-13 pass for 129 yards. The 129 passing yards set a new personal best for the quarterback, who also added 66 rushing yards on 25 carries. The second scored two touchdowns for his 10e and 11e rushed touchdowns of the season. After today’s game, Shepherd is now tied for the FCS lead in rushing touchdowns.

The Owls and Aggies (3-3, 2-1) were in a defensive fight for the first half of Saturday’s game. At halftime, the game had just seven points total, complementing a three-yard touchdown from Shepherd. It was the first time NC A&T had been held scoreless before half-time since November 16, 2016 against North Carolina Central.

North Carolina A&T managed to move the ball across the field in their first practice of the game, but missed a 25-yard field goal attempt to enter the board. For the next four practices, each defense held its own and didn’t allow the opposing offense to start anything.

Kennesaw State forced a punt early in the second quarter and started with the ball on his 20-yard line. The offense moved the ball 80 yards down the field and scored on Shepherd’s three-yard touchdown. The practice was highlighted by a reception from 34 yards to Irving Smith to push the ball into Aggie’s territory. The reception marked the longest of Smith’s career and broke his previous 14-yard record set last week at Hampton (Oct. 9). Smith finished the game with two catches for 64 yards, another career high.

On the drive that followed, North Carolina A&T had a first try before being forced to kick. During the attempt, freshman Benyard garland crossed the Aggies’ defensive line and got his hands on the ball. Kennesaw State recovered the block on his 39-yard line. It was the 10e stuck punt in Kennesaw State’s seven-year history and the first since March 13, 2021, against Charleston Southern.
The seven halftime total points marked the lowest combined score in a Kennesaw State half-time football game since his inaugural season in 2015 against Garner Webb (Oct. 17). The Owls defense allowed just eight rushing yards in two quarterbacks.

Kennesaw State would strike again late in the third quarter on a 44-yard drive in six games. Shepherd found Smith again on a 29-yard pass that moved the ball over to the one-yard line. Shepherd pushed the ball for a score on the next game, registering his 11e rush hit of the year.

The Owls started the fourth quarter with a 14-0 lead. Ahead of today’s game, KSU held a 52-1 record as they had a lead in the last frame. The Aggies were unable to beat the odds and extended the Owls’ current winning streak to 19 as they led after three quarters.

The Owls claimed their seventh straight victory at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The team is back in action next Saturday, October 23, for a clash on the Great South Highway with the Campbell Camels. Kick-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. inside Barker-Lane Stadium in Buies Creek, NC

Post-match notes

  • Today’s game saw the largest crowd in Fifth Third Bank Stadium history (9,556).
  • Strategist Xavier Berger 11 touchdowns rank first in the FCS.
  • Kennesaw State has now won 15 straight games in October.
  • Evan thompson recorded a career-high 12 tackles and three tackles for loss.
  • KSU converted on 5 out of 5 fourth attempts.
  • The Owls’ offense has racked up more than 150 yards in 63 straight games.
  • Today’s victory marked the eighth consecutive victory over a team from North Carolina.
  • The Head Coach Brian Bohannon improved his record to 24-8 in the Big South game.

For more information on Kennesaw State Track and Field, follow @KennesawStFB to Twitter or like Kennesaw State Football to Facebook and Instagram.

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