By Don Stone – GeorgiaTechExpress.com
This game had been in the works since 2014, before Kennesaw State had actually fielded a team. And it would have been more interesting if the Owls and Yellow Jackets were at full strength. But, KSU was very much undermanned as they entered Bobby Dodd Stadium, a place where head coach Brian Bohannon had coached under Paul Johnson for five seasons.
The lopsided 45-17 loss was quite a contrast to the two previous times KSU stepped up to take on an FBS team. In 2018, they opened the season at Georgia State and led the entire game until a last second touchdown gave the Panthers the 24-20 win.
And early in 2019, they took Kent State into overtime on the road before losing 26-23.
It didn’t help that the Owls had over a dozen players unavailable due to in injuries and other assorted reasons including starting quarterback Jonathan Murphy, not dressed for the game after sustaining a leg injury last week against Reinhardt.
Backup Xavier Shepherd got his first start and moved the ball well at times. But, a pair of early miscues gave the Yellow Jackets all they needed to jump up 17-0.
Georgia Tech also was playing with a second string QB in Jordan Yates. He and his team seemed to have a chip on their shoulders with something to prove after blowing a late lead 22-21 the previous week to Northern Illinois.
Yates, threw for 254 yards completing 17-of-23 passes, He became the first Jacket to pass for four TDs in the first start of his collegiate career.
The Owls’ option offense was held to just 272 yards in the 45-17 loss.
“Two years ago, we were in a very similar game against a triple option team that runs it really well (Citadel) and took a loss in overtime,” said Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins after the game.
“It shows the growth in this program to play one of the top teams in FCS. I thought Andrew Thacker called a great game.”
Thacker used to coach at KSU and was very familiar with what they do.
The easier schedule gets tough as the Jackets enter ACC play with a road game at Clemson. Game time is 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 18 and can be seen on ABC.