KSU

SpecialKennesaw State players celebrated on Saturday with their win against Gardner-Webb. Sunday, they celebrated qualifying for the FCS playoffs.

KENNESAW — Kennesaw State had a few anxious moments, but the wait was rewarded.

The Owls are going back to the FCS playoffs.

Kennesaw State received one of the 14 at-large bids during Sunday’s FCS Playoff selection show and it will travel to Wofford for the opening round. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Heading into KSU’s 42-14 victory over Gardner-Webb, there was no guarantee that a 10-2 record would get them back into the postseason for a third straight season. The Owls 2019 schedule was considered weak and they had only beaten one team with a winning record.

Things may have loosened up for them when Towson and Southern Illinois suffered losses to drop their records to 7-5. Regardless, for the third time in only five years of the football program, the Owls will get to continue on their journey to a potential national championship.

It led to some anxious moments for the players from the time the game ended Saturday afternoon.

“There were definitely some jitters,” KSU running back Shaquil Terry said. “But now it’s time to go to work.”

For coach Brian Bohannon, he said seeing the team pop up in the playoff bracket brought a sense of excitement and relief.

“Obviously excited about the opportunity,” Bohannon said. “Relieved as well. I told our kids in there I was excited about the opportunity. I think our kids have earned it. The big thing now is to go take advantage of the opportunity.”

The game will be a rematch of last year’s second round playoff matchup, when the Owls defeated the Terriers 13-10 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. In that game, the defenses were dominant. Neither team gained more than 250 yards of total offense.

Former Owls linebacker Anthony Gore made the big play, sacking Wofford quarterback Joe Newman and causing a fumble. Lineman Andrew Butcher recovered the ball with 3:28 to play.

Quarterback Chandler Burks then moved the offense to the Terriers’ 18. Justin Thompson kicked the eventual game-winning field goal with 1:43 to play.

For Burks, that was the last game of his exceptional college career. Now, he will be trying to figure out the best way to beat Kennesaw State. Burks currently works as the defensive quality control coach at Wofford.

However, as of Sunday afternoon, there has been no friendly trash talk between him, Bohannon and his former teammates.

“That will probably start Monday,” Terry said.

This will be the second time the teams have faced each other, but it certainly won’t be the last. Wofford and KSU will begin a home-and-home contract in 2021. The Owls will travel to Wofford first, while the Terriers will return the favor in 2022.

With the proximity of the programs, this could be the beginning of what the Owls need — a genuine rivalry.

“Could be. We do have them on the schedule in the near future,” Bohannon said. “They are a team that is close, in the Southern Conference. They won their league this year and are a traditionally good football team. If it turns into that, great.”

However, a rivalry is not something Bohannon is concerned with right now.

“It’s all about survive and advance now,” he said.

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