By Don Stone, KennesawStateSports.com
From first snap to last, #20 Kennesaw State thoroughly dominated #17 Jacksonville State Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
A 16 yard Xavier Shepherd run had the Owls in charge 14-0 by the end of the first quarter. Those first two drives combined for 20 plays and 125 yards using over 11 minutes.
KSU had extended that lead to 17-0 by halftime on a Nathan Robertson 45 yard field goal.
After Nykeem Farrow took a pitch for 13 yards to get close, Shepherd finished the job and it was 24-0, still in the third quarter.
Jacksonville State finally got on the board when Zerrick Cooper connected on a long pass for 34 yards to Quan Charleston combined with a 42 yard run by Josh Samuel. PJ Wells got them in the end zone for the only time with a 15 yard run.
Head coach John Grass, needing lots of points, went for the two point conversion and failed to make it 24-6.
Kennesaw State tacked on a final score to finish it off 31-6 in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd of 7,476.
Typical of how the Owls owned the time of possession, that final scoring drive took 15 plays going 75 yards and nearly nine minutes of clock. 271 of their 343 yards were rushing. The defense held JSU to just 71 yards of offense.
The KSU QB rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns as his team controlled the score and the clock keeping the ball for almost 15 minutes longer than the Gamecocks.
Next year, the Owls will move to the Atlantic Sun Conference where JSU will be a regular opponent. They have met three time so far and the short rivalry has been one sided with KSU taking all three.
Originally, they met in the second round of the 2017 FCS Playoffs, stunning the then #3 ranked Jacksonville State team 17-7 on their home field.
The next year, they battled each other in a four hour and twelve minute marathon at then Suntrust Park.
The two teams went back and fourth for five overtimes with the Owls finally prevailing 60-52 over then 7th ranked JSU.
The Owls now shift to the largest conference schedule in Big South history (seven games), having won 17 of their last 19 matchups since 2017. It starts next Saturday at the Hampton Pirates in Virginia.