KENT, Ohio -- Two touchdowns called back because of penalties. An interception in the end zone. Allowing a deep touchdown pass. A costly incompletion on fourth down.
There might have been 81 other plays during Saturday’s game between Kennesaw State and Kent State, but those plays -- all occurring in the second half and overtime -- will be the ones coach Brian Bohannon and the Owls will look back on that could have changed the outcome and the Kennesaw State history books.
Despite leading at halftime and winning most major statistical categories, Kennesaw State fell to Kent State 26-23 in overtime at Dix Stadium.
The loss not only dropped the Owls to 1-1 on the season, but it was another missed chance to pick up its first win over an opponent from a Football Bowl Subdivision.
“They are heartbroken right now,” Bohannon said. “This was a big game for them. Honestly, they are in shock. In their minds, they were never going to lose.”
Saturday was only the second time that the Owls had gone up against an FBS opponent. Last season, they lost 24-20 at Georgia State.
This year was another one-score loss. It was another game that Kennesaw State had more than a few chances to win, but this one was different.
This loss left the Owls in shock, likely because of how well things went in the first half. At halftime, Kennesaw State led 16-10 and had scored each time it was in the red zone.
The good fortune continued in the second half when the Owls recovered a fumbled punt by Kent State (1-1), getting the ball back at the 19-yard line.
That was the second time in the game that happened. In the first half, the Golden Flashes misplayed a punt and the Owls recovered it before scoring a touchdown two plays later.
But this time, it wasn’t a touchdown that followed.
Quarterback Daniel David threw an interception in the end zone. It was the first time the Owls did not score at least a field goal when inside the red zone, and it was the first of many of the moments that led to the loss.
After the interception, Kent State drove and took the 17-16 lead after a 75-yard touchdown pass from Dustin Crum to Isaiah McKoy. It was the longest pass of the day for either team.
Crum finished his day 17-of-23 passing for 192 yards.
Kennesaw State used a heavy amount of run to set up the pass, and it did just that on its ensuing drive. On a second-and-8 from the 43, Shaquil Terry took a pitch from David around the left side and found the end zone, but a holding penalty negated the play. The Owls turned it over on downs three plays later.
That was the first of two called-back touchdowns, both because of penalties. In the fourth quarter, after forcing a Kent State punt, Antavius Grier took a handoff 10 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back after an illegal block.
“We made so many mistakes today,” Bohannon said. “I give credit to Kent. That’s not where I’m going, but we've got to score touchdowns in the red zone. We can’t have the million different penalties. Some are what they are, but, regardless, you can’t do all that and go on the road and win.”
Despite all of those chances, the Owls were not out of the game. In fact, they made what Bohannon called a “gutsy” drive to tie the game in the final minutes.
After converting on a fourth-and-5 from the Kent State 18, where David found former walk-on Caleb O’Neal for his first career catch, David finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown.
David was the Owls’ leading rusher, finishing with 69 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. He was 8-of-20 passing for 185 yards.
But the Owls’ defense could not stop Kent State in its final push, as the Golden Flashes kicked a game-tying field goal to send the game into overtime.
There were no more heroics left. No more second chances.
The Owls got the ball first in OT, but fumbled on its one and only possession. Kent State used three plays to set up the game-winning 45-yard field goal by Matthew Trickett.
“We thought we should have won that game. We killed ourselves,” David said. “I think everybody is shocked, 'cause we had it.”
Though the fumble in overtime was the dagger for the Owls, Bohannon knew it should not have come to that. It is now up to the coaches and players to make sure those mistakes are corrected before next week’s game at Alabama State.
“One game will never define who we are as a program, and this football team won’t be defined by one game,” Bohannon said. “Our goals are all still in front of us.
“Was that a big deal for us? Your darn right it was, but we didn’t get it done.”