Kennesaw State outlasts Wofford, moves on to FCS quarterfinals
KENNESAW – Wofford coach Josh Conklin said Kennesaw State made one more play than the Terriers did Saturday.
Kennesaw State linebacker Anthony Gore Jr. sacked Wofford quarterback Joe Newman, resulting in a fumble recovered by Andrew Butcher on the Terriers’ 21-yard line.
Though the Owls were unable to gain the first down, a 30-yard field goal by Justin Thompson was good enough for the only points scored in the second half, and a 13-10 win in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Matching its playoff run of last year, Kennesaw State (11-1) will host South Dakota State in the quarterfinals on either Friday or Saturday.
“We made a play or two at the end when we had to get a turnover, get in position to where we could at least try and kick a field goal,” Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said.
Both defenses were in for a challenge, with Kennesaw State entering the game as the No. 2-ranked rushing offense in FCS, averaging 373.9 yards per game, and Wofford (9-4) the fourth-ranked at 331.5.
Kennesaw State ultimately won the battle of rush defenses, holding Wofford to just 74 yards on the ground among 236 yards of total offense.
The Terriers allowed the Owls to run for a season-low 163 yards and they held the No. 1-ranked scoring offense in FCS, at 48.6 points per game, to just one touchdown.
That came when Darnell Holland tiptoed down the sideline for 53 yards on the first play of the second quarter for a 7-0 lead. Holland led Kennesaw State with 74 rushing yards.
Just as Wofford allowed one big play on defense, so did Kennesaw State just a few plays after Holland’s touchdown.
Quarterback Joe Newman connected with D’mauriae Vancleave for a 57-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at 7-all.
With 2:24 left in the half, and trailing 10-7, Kennesaw State took over on its own 20.
Chandler Burks, who did not have a rushing touchdown for the first time since the season opener against Georgia State, led the Owls down the field, connecting with Holland with an 18-yard completion on fourth down. That brought Kennesaw State to the Wofford 26 with just over a minute left in the quarter, which set up Thompson’s tying 40- yard field goal as time expired in the half.
The defensive struggle continued for both teams in the second half.
Wofford had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, but Newman went for the end zone on third-and-18 and the ball was intercepted by Cincere Mason, resulting in a touchback.
Overall, Kennesaw State had 13 tackles for loss. Gore led the Owls’ defense with 12 tackles, including six for loss and the sack that ultimately decided the game.
Bryson Armstrong had eight tackles, with two for loss, while Desmond Johnson Jr. had six tackles and Travis Bell added five.