Kennesaw State broke a school record for consecutive victories over a single team with a win over Gardner-Webb University.
The sixth all-time meeting between the Kennesaw State Owls and the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs was nothing short of a classic, as the Owls looked to defeat their Big South conference rivals for the sixth consecutive time.
KSU head coach Brian Bohannon looked to add his 59th victory as head coach to his resume, which would further solidify him as the second-winningest coach in Big South history, behind only Coastal Carolina’s David Bennett and his 63 wins.
With less than a minute left to play in the fourth quarter, quarterback Xavier Shepherd led the Owls down the field, connecting his fourth and final touchdown pass of the game with just eleven seconds remaining, a 15-yard connection to wide receiver Xavier Hill.
The Owl defense showed promise early on in the first quarter, stopping the Runnin’ Bulldogs on a fourth-down attempt just under five minutes into the game, before falling behind 0-10 to end the fifteen minutes of play.
Despite the sluggish start to the game, the Owls were able to come back from the early deficit thanks to a 39-yard field goal from senior kicker Nathan Robertson. Following another empty drive from GWU, a muffed punt almost spelled disaster for the Owls early, however, a swift recovery at their own 17-yard line, followed by two crucial defensive pass interference calls against the opposition, put them in a position to score once more before the half.
Shepherd scored his first of a career-high and school-record four touchdown passes with an 8-yard pass to Hill, his first of two touchdowns on the afternoon.
A miscalculation from wide receiver Nykeem Farrow would cost the Owls a chance to strike back with a lost fumble. A strong defensive stand would give the ball back shortly after, where Shepherd would connect with freshman running back Gabriel Benyard for 30 more yards and Kennesaw’s second touchdown of the afternoon.
More toughness on the defensive side of the ball would eventually lead to Shepherd’s third and longest touchdown of the afternoon, a 51-yard strike to Caleb O’Neal to put the Owls out in front 24-17 with just 47 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
In the final quarter of regulation, Robertson connected with his second field goal of the afternoon, this time from 44 yards out. An overturned coach’s challenge at the goal line by Gardner-Webb would give them a touchdown with just under three minutes left in the game, putting them down only 24-27, and leaving the Owls on their heels temporarily.
However, GWU’s comeback was not to be, as, despite scoring a seemingly game-sealing touchdown with just 43 seconds left to play in the game, the extra point was blocked by the Owls special teams unit.
Hill’s final touchdown put the Owls up 30-34, giving them the win.
The Owls will be on the road in Pennsylvania this Saturday to take on Robert Morris University. They return home for their final game of the season against Monmouth on Nov. 20.