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Despite ending the regular season with a 10-1 record and the Big South championship, Irving Smith and his Kennesaw State teammates were unable to secure one of eight national seeds of the FCS tournament.

KENNESAW — After Saturday’s 49-17 victory over Monmouth, Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said his team had earned the right to be one of eight national seed and earn a bye in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

The selection committee felt otherwise.

The Owls, despite being 10-1, the outright Big South Conference champion and with no losses to FCS opponents, fell short in the committee’s eyes and are slated to play Davidson at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

Bohannon was a little concerned about how his players would handle the situation.

“I think the kids were good. I think they were all disappointed,” he said. “They worked awful hard to get to that point. They, like myself, felt like it was deserved, but it didn’t happen. I thought they handled it well. I was a little curious on how they would come back (Monday), but their attitude has been good.

Of the eight national seeds, Kennesaw State has a better record than four of them — No. 4 Sacramento State, No. 5 Villanova, No. 6 Montana and No. 8 Montana State. What the Owls do not have is a stronger conference than teams from the Missouri Valley, which has North Dakota State as one of its six teams in the playoffs, or the Big Sky, which has three national seeds among its five postseason qualifiers.

Despite finishing 7-0 in the Big South and beating traditional FCS powers Jacksonville State and Wofford along the way, it appeared as if the Owls were not even one of the final ones under consideration for a seed.

“As I told (the players), ‘I get it. I agree with you,’” Bohannon said. “I’ve been telling our kids, and I think they recognize it. There’s a lot of times here where we feel like we’re doing everything we can, we’re winning ballgames, and we don’t get the recognition we deserve.

“I told our guys, sometimes that happens and that’s just the way it is. You can control what you can control. Let’s go take care of business.”

Injury front

Heading into the game against Monmouth, Kennesaw State was about as healthy as it had been all season. That changed quickly in the fourth quarter.

Almost on consecutive plays, offensive linemen Jake Lassiter and Zion Katina went down with injuries. Both got up and walked off under their own power, but it is too early to know who will and who will not play Saturday against Davidson.

“We’re banged-up,” Bohannon said. “What you saw is what you saw. Especially on the offensive line, we’re banged up.

“It’s kind of been the thing this year. We’re sitting there with a lead Saturday and, all of a sudden, one after another, and there wasn’t much you could do about it. Hopefully, we can get some guys back, and if not, somebody else is going to have to step up and play. I think it will be the same Saturday. There’s going to be some guys out for sure.”

Weekly honors

Quarterback Xavier Shepherd ran for 118 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Owls against Monmouth, and on Monday was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Week. It marked the fourth time he had won the honor this season.

Academic honors

Defensive back Je’Cory Burks was named to the COSIDA First-Team Academic All-District team with a 3.52 grade-point average.

The award recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances in the classroom and on the gridiron.

Burks has started all 11 games for the Owls’ defense this season and is working on a degree in computer science. The junior cornerback has 27 tackles (16 solo), five pass breakups and a fumble return for a touchdown.

Up and down

Kennesaw State continues to impress the American Football Coaches Association, but not as much the media. The Owls moved up one spot in the coaches’ poll to No. 4, while they dropped a spot to No. 10 in the STATS FCS Top 25.

On the air

Saturday’s game can be seen on ESPN+ and heard on the KSU Owls app.


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