GREATEST MOMENTS | Kennesaw State triumphed with winning record in first season
The Owls beat Monmouth 23-13 that day in the sports moment judged the greatest in school history, because it clinched a winning record in their first season.
Junior running backs Chaston Bennett (6 carries, 124 yards) and Trey White (27 carries, 102 yards, 1 TD) accounted for 226 of the Owls' 341 rushing yards as they held the ball for over 35 minutes. Linebacker Anthony Gore made 10 tackles.
"You really don't know what the expectations are when you come into a season and you've never had one before," head coach Brian Bohannon said after the game. "All you're trying to do is get better every week."
It was hard for the Owls to top their start.
They won their first game (56-16 at East Tennessee State), their first home game (58-7 against Edward Waters) and their first Big South Conference game (12-7 against Gardner-Webb). It marked the first time in conference history, excluding its first year in 2002, that a newcomer won its league opener.
At 2-0, they became the fourth FCS team since 2008 to open with two consecutive wins. The other three FCS teams to debut with two consecutive wins were Charlotte (2013), Mercer (2013) and Old Dominion (2009).
More impressively, the Owls averaged 57 points in their first two wins and led the nation in scoring, becoming the first FCS team since 2008 to score 50 points in each of its first two games. They were the first Big South team to open the season with consecutive 50-point games since Gardner-Webb in 2005 and lead the conference in touchdowns (16), points (114), rushing offense (361.5) and rushing touchdowns (11).
But the numbers that mattered most to Bohannon were the yardsticks that measured his team’s progress.
“Offensively, we played 54 snaps with 45 efforts and 48 missed assignments,” he said of his team's 58-point performance against Edward Waters, an NAIA school. “Now, relatively speaking, that’s better but it’s nowhere where it needs to be for us to be the kind of football team we want to be here.”
Three other schools that made their football debut in 2015 — East Tennessee State (FCS), Finlandia University (Division III) in Hancock, Mich., and Lyon College (NAIA) in Batesville, Ark. — wanted to be like Kennesaw State. None finished with a winning record.
Kennesaw State's victory against Monmouth gave the suburban Atlanta school with only 43 scholarship players a 6-2 overall record — 2-1 in the Big South.
Three consecutive losses dropped the Owls to 6-5, but the campaign was a triumph.
"We have assured ourselves a winning season," Bohannon said, "and that is a big deal."
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Middle and on the cover: Linebacker Kyron Minter picks off a pass in Kennesaw State's 23-13 victory against Monmouth that clinch a winning record for the Owls in their first season. (Courtesy KSU Athletics)