Kennesaw State defeats Tennessee Tech in overtime in homecoming game

Kennesaw State rallied from a poor first half to defeat Tennessee Tech 33-30 in overtime at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Saturday.

Quarterback Xavier Shepherd shook off a mostly stagnant second half to lead the Owls (3-4) on three consecutive scoring drives to secure the victory. Shepherd’s 4-yard run in overtime ended the game. He finished with 224 yards passing and 125 yards rushing and surpassed 2,000 yards passing for the season.

After Tech (1-6) kicked a field goal in the overtime, Shepherd kept the Owls’ drive alive with three consecutive runs, including his touchdown.

It was another up-and-down performance, but the Owls overcame mistakes and worked to pick up each other and wake up toward the end of the game. Coach Brian Bohannon talked about the team’s growth as it overcame adversity and how the Owls have been learning to finish games.

“Play fast and win,” Bohannon said. “Those are our goals. We did not play perfect, but we did our goals. At the end of the day, a group of kids decided they were going to find a way to win a game today, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Saturday’s homecoming game took the crowd on a roller coaster of emotions in the fourth quarter. It started with Markeith Montgomery’s interception of a pass by Tech wide receiver Quavel Thornton at the 12:57 mark. That was followed two plays later by fullback Preston Daniels’ 46-yard run on a drive that ended with a missed 40-yard field-goal attempt by Conor Cummins with 10:14 to play. KSU remained behind, 20-17.

Montgomery’s eighth career interception tied the school record.

“I had my eyes in the backfield and went right to the ball,” Montgomery said. “I wanted to take it to the house, but ended up falling.”

After multiple drives that did little for either side, Shepherd led the go-ahead drive, which was set up by Gabriel Benyard’s catch and run of 34 yards and finished by a 20-yard TD pass from Shepherd to Isaac Foster with 1:21 left in regulation, giving KSU a 24-20 lead.

The defense, after playing well for most of the game, could not hold onto the lead, giving up three plays of 18 yards or more, with the dagger being an 18-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Tennessee Tech’s Willie Miller to give the Golden Eagles a 27-24 lead and quiet the crowd with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Shepherd then led a last-ditch, desperation drive in front of a frenetic crowd, taking three plays to go 52 yards, the drive ending when this time Cummins made a 40-yard field-goal attempt as time expired that sent the game to overtime, tied at 27-27.