Kennesaw State's Desmond Johnson Jr. sacks Alabama State quarterback Darryl Pearson, causing a fumble during the Owls' home opener in 2018.

KENNESAW -- Kennesaw State will look to get back to its winning ways  Saturday when it travels to Montgomery, Alabama, to face Alabama State.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

It is the third time in as many years the No. 7 Owls will face the Hornets.

Kennesaw State (1-1) came out on top in the previous two matchups by a combined score of 82-27, but that was skewed by a 62-13 win last year at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. When the teams met two years ago in Montgomery, the Owls had to stop the Hornets on a final drive to secure a 20-14 victory.

This year, could provide a similar challenge with Alabama State (1-1) receiving an influx of transfers from the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Hornets have 13 FBS transfers on their roster, with five listed as starters. The best could be running back Duran Bell, a sophomore transfer from South Florida. Though he was listed as a backup for Saturday's game, he is leading Alabama State in rushing with 174 yards, and he had 112 of those in a season-opening 24-19 loss at UAB, an FBS opponent.

"We're playing the best Alabama State football team we've played," Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said. "They are playing with a lot of confidence. They played UAB in the first game, the reigning Conference USA champions, and really should have beat them. Had every opportunity late in the game.

Last week, the Hornets beat their rival Tuskegee 38-31 and were led by quarterback KHA'Darris Davis, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns. Receivers Michael Jefferson and Jeremiah Hixon were the beneficiaries, with Jefferson catching five passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns, and Hixon eight catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.

"They have some guys that can change the game with the ball in their hands," Bohannon said. 

Kennesaw State will be trying to put last week's 26-23 overtime loss to Kent State behind it. Early in the week, Bohannon said he had no idea where the Owls were as far as overcoming the mental hurdle of the loss, but he made sure he sent a message to the team to help them shake it off. 

"I got after them pretty good after practice," he said. "We don't lose much around here and, by gosh, we don't lose two in a row ever around here, so the response to a loss should be astronomical right now. Everyone from me to coaches, to players to trainers to managers to everyone involved -- everybody -- we win as a team we lose as a team, so the response to these things needs to be through the roof, and I'm not sure it's there."

On the line in Saturday's game is Kennesaw State's streak of 18 straight regular-season wins against FCS teams. Also, the Owls have not lost two in a row since the inaugural season of 2015, having gone 40 games since without back-to-back losses.

One thing that may help Kennesaw State prevail Saturday is the challenges Alabama State has had covering kickoffs.

In each of their first two games, the Hornets have given up a kick return for a touchdown. They have allowed eight returns for 291 yards, for a 36.4-yard average.

With that in mind, Kennesaw State sophomore Isaac Foster could be in for a big day. Last year, he had two 100-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns and was the Big South Special Teams Player of the Year.


In each of the first two meetings between the Owls and Hornets, bad weather played a part.

In 2017, the beginning of the game was delayed 54 minutes because of lightning in Montgomery. Last year in Kennesaw, the game had nearly a two-hour lightning delay.

The weather for Saturday's game is expected to be partly cloudy with a kickoff temperature of 92 degrees and a 15% chance of rain.


Linebacker Bryson Armstrong, a former Kell High School standout, returns to the place where he had his breakout game.

In the third game of his freshman year, Armstrong had 15 tackles, two sacks, forced a fumble and had an interception against Alabama State. His second sack of the game took the Hornets out of scoring position on their final drive and helped secure the win.


Expect the Owls to return to the ground game Saturday.

Last week at Kent State, quarterback Daniel David was 8-of-21 passing for 185 yards. It led Bohannon to say he thought the team may have thrown the ball too much against the Golden Flashes.

"Any time we throw the ball more than 20 times, we have an 'L' next to it," Bohannon said. 


Video of the game will be streamed at BamaStateSports.com. It can also be heard on the Atlanta Sports X at 1230 AM and 106.3 FM, as well as through the TuneIn app.


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