By Don Stone – KennesawStateSports.com
In his Tuesday press conference, head coach Brian Bohannon spoke about the number of players who would be unable to suit up for the season opener. He said over 20 players for one reason or another would be out of the game.
But, for the ones who could, it would be enough to defeat Reinhardt 35-25 in his team’s first ever Thursday night season opener.
But it wasn’t easy. This Eagles team was much improved from the one that KSU beat 31-7 in 2019. The visitors are the #8 ranked team in country in the NAIA. In 2020, they made another appearance in the NAIA Football Championship Series Quarterfinals and are 5 time defending Appalachian Division champions within the Mid-South Conference.
The Owls came in ranked #19 in the FCS.
Reinhardt put up a fight but the Kennesaw State ground game turned out to be too much to handle as junior quarterback Jonathan Murphy ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with an injury to his right leg.
The Owls ran a total of 67 times for 332 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Xavier Shepherd came in to finish the game at QB and added a pair of scores on his own.
Kennesaw State jumped out first with Nykeem Farrow took it in from 20 yards. The Eagles’ dangerous quarterback, Billy Hall, who passed for 90 yards and two TDS and ran for 128 and two more scores, hit Navarie Solomon for a 26 yard tying pass.
A pair of 12 play drives gave the Owls a two score advantage 21-7 that they took into the half.
Both teams had problems with their kicking games. For the Eagles, it was a pair of missed extra points by James Hardy that also cost them in a failed two point conversation as they tried to make up for it. For the Owls, Nathan Robinson missed a 27 yard field goal attempt keeping it at 21-7.
A high snap by Jacob Potter flew over the punter Ben Moran’s head going all the way to the KSU 8 allowed Reinhard to get back in the game. But, the Owls held the score there for the final 35-25 tally.
Things get a lot tougher as Kennesaw State gets ready to face their first ever Power 5 FBS opponent. They head down I-75 next Saturday to Bobby Dodd Stadium and Brian Bohannon’s former team, Georgia Tech. Kickoff is at noon.