KENNESAW — Kennesaw State suffered the worst home loss in program history Saturday as Monmouth beat the Owls 45-21.
It was the first Big South Conference loss for Kennesaw State since the final game of the 2016 season. It also broke a string of 17 consecutive regular-season wins at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, and with a strength of schedule in the 100s, it may have dealt a big blow to the Owls’ postseason possibilities despite coming into Saturday’s game ranked fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Kennesaw State’s previous largest home loss was a 15-point setback against Liberty in 2016. The only larger loss overall came in 2015, when the Owls lost by 32 points at Coastal Carolina.
“Well, that doesn’t happen around here very often. We got out butts kicked today,” Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said. “We got outcoached, outplayed, outexecuted — however you want to look at it. We couldn’t get anything going, and we couldn’t get off the field. I really don’t know a better way to explain it to you better than that.”
Monmouth quarterback Kenji Behar completed 20 of 27 passes for 332 yards, ran for another 92 yards and kept the Owls’ defense off-balance the entire game. The Hawks (7-2, 4-0) rolled up 517 yards of total offense against Kennesaw State’s top-ranked defense, which came into the game allowing only 259 yards per game.
Bohannon said the key to success Saturday would be if the Owls (7-2, 2-1) could move the ball early. They did not, and it allowed Monmouth’s offense to get into a rhythm.
“Offensively, I knew coming into the game we had to dictate the pace of the game,” Bohannon said.
Instead, after Kennesaw State took a 7-3 lead, it was Monmouth that dictated the tempo.
In the second quarter, the Hawks went on scoring drives of 85, 65 and 85 yards and scored 28 of their 42 unanswered points. Behar completed eight straight passes, including a 55-yard strike to Brandon Bass to set up Devell Jones’ 7-yard touchdown run, and a 32-yard completion which led to Pete Guerriero’s 10-yard score.
With just over a minute left in the half, Owls quarterback Daniel David was flushed from the pocket and, while trying to keep the play alive, threw a pass toward the sideline that was intercepted by Tymere Berry and returned 41 yards for another touchdown.
By the time the first 30 minutes were over, Monmouth had rolled up 290 yards of offense and had a 31-7 lead at the half.
“We went into halftime and rallied the guys up,” Bohannon said. “I don’t think we were not ready to play the game. I don’t think that was the case. We didn’t go execute when we needed to execute.”
Kennesaw State came out in the second half and went on a 10-play, 67-yard drive which brought it inside the Monmouth 10, but the drive ended when David was stopped short on fourth-and-2.
On the next play, Behar connected with Zach Treadway, who, after a missed tackle, went 92 yards down the sideline to end any hopes of an Owls comeback.
Treadway finished the day with seven catches for 162 yards.
Behar added a 65-yard touchdown run on the next drive and Monmouth had a 45-7 lead, the biggest deficit a Kennesaw State team had ever faced in its short five-year history.
“When you don’t lose a lot and you get into one of those — the good thing was I saw a lot of guys out late in the game. They had fight,” said Bohannon, who watched his team fall to 26-5 all-time at home.
Kennesaw State scored a pair of late touchdowns to make the score look more respectable.
The first came on a trick play when running back Bronson Rechsteiner completed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Shaquil Terry. Backup quarterback Tommy Bryant added a 50-yard touchdown run — his second scoring run of the day — to close the scoring.
Bryant led Kennesaw State with 90 of the team’s 292 yards on the ground.
The Owls will try to regroup next week when it heads to Campbell.
“In life, there is adversity,” Bohannon said. “In life, things don’t go the way you want. What makes you the way you are is how you respond.
“All I know to do when things like that happen is you go back to work.”