Two minutes into the fourth quarter of last week’s game against Charleston Southern, Bryson Armstrong and Travis Bell met at the quarterback for a sack.
The play stopped a Buccaneers drive and forced a punt.
At the time, it did not seem like that big of a play with the Owls leading 24-7, but it ended up being important as Kennesaw State held on to win 24-19.
It was also a big moment for Armstrong.
With the half-sack, the former Kell High School standout became Kennesaw State’s all-time sack leader, breaking a tie with former defensive lineman Desmond Johnson Jr.
Armstrong added another sack later in the quarter to give him 18.5 for his career, which marked the 11th single-game, season or career record he holds for the Owls’ program.
For the game, Armstrong finished with eight tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. It was an outstanding performance that has become the norm for the 6-foot, 205-pound senior linebacker and safety.
“What you saw Saturday was Bryson Armstrong,” Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said. “He was highly motivated, excited about playing, and he played they way you would expect Bryson Armstrong to play.”
As Kennesaw State prepares to play Dixie State on Saturday, Armstrong leads the team with 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He is also tied for the lead with 13 tackles and can now work on padding all those records and set his sights on a few others.
By the Armstrong is done, he has a chance to be the defensive equivalent to former Owls quarterback and current quarterbacks coach Chandler Burks, who owns nearly every passing, rushing and scoring record in program history.
However, individual accolades are not why Armstrong plays the game.
“I’ve never really thought about (records),” he said during fall camp. “I’ve always had a passion for the game. Individual accolades are nice, but I’d rather win championships.”
Armstrong has done plenty of both.
As a freshman in 2017, he had the best defensive season in program history, setting single-season marks for tackles (114), solo tackles (85), sacks (11) and fumbles recovered (4). For his efforts, he was the first defensive player to win the Jerry Rice Award, which is given to the best freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Since then, he has made numerous All-America teams. He is the reigning Big South Defensive Player of the Year, was a 2019 finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award as the best defensive player in the FCS, and he will likely be up for the honor again this spring. Also, Hero Sports named him the Big South’s top NFL prospect for 2021.
“He’s an unbelievable player and has been since the day he stepped on campus,” Bohannon said. “He’s an exceptional kid, an exceptional player, and they don’t come around like Bryson Armstrong very often.
“It’s never about Bryson. It’s always about the team, and for a player of his caliber, that’s a huge quality to have.”
Armstrong said he would like a shot at the NFL, and with his production, he should get the opportunity. As a pro, he would likely move to safety full-time, but that is just fine with him.
“I’ll play football as long as I can,” Armstrong said. “I’ll play wherever they want me to play.”
Right now, through, Armstrong’s focus is on helping the team win a third Big South championship in his four seasons, and if that happens, add another deep playoff run to go with it.
It would be another chapter to a career that Armstrong will enjoy looking back on whenever his career is over.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “When I first got here, coach said we were going to have a winning program. I knew this was a special place. I have plenty of memories. Great games to remember, great friends and teammates. When I’m an old man, I’ll get to look back and know I was part of something great.”