Owls Dominate Davidson To Open FCS Playoffs

By Don Stone, KennesawStateSports.com

     It became obvious from the start as Kennesaw State hosted their third ever home FCS Playoff game, who the better team was. 

     The Owls held Davidson to just 217 yards rushing, a team that lead the nation in that category. KSU came in second in rushing and managed 305 of their own on the way to a 48-21 domination of the Wildcats.

     And the 21 points Davidson put up were all basically on three plays…a Dylan Sparks 54 yard touchdown run in the first quarter, a Coy Williams 61 yard sprint to the end zone in the second quarter and a Jalen Jefferson fumble recovery that was run back for a 45 yard score to start the third quarter.

     But each time the Wildcats had some hope of a comeback with a score, the Owls quickly answered with one of their own. Kennesaw State kept the distance comfortably out of reach for most of the game.

     It began with two first quarter touchdown runs by Xavier Shepherd and a rare Nathan Robertson missed extra point to give them a 13 point lead.
 
     Gabriel Benyard
returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown and KSU was up 20-0. After the Sparks score got his team on the board, the Owls immediately restored the 20 point difference with an Iaan Cousin 10 yard TD run to make it 27-7.  

    The Williams TD score made it 27-13, but Shepherd quickly tacked on his third rushing touchdown to return the lead to 20.

     The sophomore quarterback got one through the air connecting with Xavier Hill for 56 yards to give KSU a 41-14 halftime lead, the missed extra point shy of tying the most points scored in a half in team history. The domination was even more impressive that it was done against a playoff caliber opponent who was a Pioneer League Champion.

     When the Owls fumbled to give the Wildcats an early second half score to make it 41-20, Shepherd found the end zone again for his fourth rushing touchdown stretching the lead back to 27 at 48-21.

     Brian Bohannon took his foot off the gas at that point and gave his backups some playing time to finish the game. It gave the head coach 63 career wins to tie the Big South Conference record, his fifth playoff victory, also a conference record.

     The Owls now move on to the second round of the playoffs on the road against the team they played in their first ever football game when the program started back in 2015 at East Tennessee State. KSU won that one to get off on the right foot 56-16. Game time is Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN+.