Kennesaw State shuts out North Carolina A&T

Cory Hancock/Special to the AJC
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Cory Hancock/Special to the AJC

Credit: Cory Hancock

Credit: Cory Hancock

Quarterback Xavier Shepherd set a personal career-high in passing, as he helped lead Kennesaw State to a 14-0 victory against North Carolina A&T on Saturday.

“There was some adversity tonight. Stuff came up, and I was proud of our kids. We kept playing and found a way to get off the field,” Owls coach Brian Bohannon said. “It wasn’t easy moving the ball, and we knew that coming in. We had to grind some stuff out in the second half. It wasn’t always pretty. There is a lot of room to grow and get better.”

Shepherd finished 6-of-13 passing for 129 yards, while rushing for 66 yards on 25 carries. He also scored two rushing touchdowns.

Entering the game, Shepherd knew he had to be aggressive and throw more than he usually does.

“We knew they were an aggressive team, and we wanted to take advantage of how they were pursuing,” Shepherd said. “We knew some angles would work better on passes, and we figured passing the ball would be the best option.”

The Owls defense proved why it’s the No. 1-ranked defense in the Big South, holding the Aggies to 207 yards of offense, including only 31 rushing yards.

Although the Owls offense committed three turnovers in the game, their defense did not allow any Aggies points off turnovers.

“I think we’re growing up on defense,” Bohannon said. “I think that’s a part of the adversity. Sudden (turnovers), and all of a sudden you have to go back out (and play). That was something I was proud of because at times we struggled with that. We still have room to get better, but you’re seeing some improvements.”

The Owls rushing attack led the way to a perfect 5-for-5 mark on fourth-down plays.

“More times that not, if we’re in a manageable situation, we’re going to go for it,” Bohannon said about going for it on fourth down. “We’ve always been that way. Our kids have confidence in doing that.”

After a defensive showdown between both teams in the first quarter, the Owls finally scored on their first drive of the second quarter. They finished a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Shepherd.

The Aggies had a chance to get points before the half, but missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt.

The Owls scored late in the third quarter with 2:53 to go as Shepherd scored his second rushing touchdown of the night.

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