Kennesaw State rallies to edge North Alabama

Quarterback Xavier Shepherd led Kennesaw State to a 9-1 record. AJC file photo
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Quarterback Xavier Shepherd led Kennesaw State to a 9-1 record. AJC file photo

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Xavier Shepherd scored on a 2-yard run as Kennesaw State drove 70 yards in eight plays for the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining to defeat North Alabama 28-24 on Saturday in Florence, Ala.

Kennesaw State (9-1, 6-0 Big South Conference), fifth-ranked in the FCS coaches poll, had fallen behind 24-21 with 3:39 left in the game after North Alabama’s Sam Contorno kicked a 29-yard field goal.

North Alabama (2-8, 1-4) led 14-0 early in the second quarter in a game that saw two ties and three lead changes.

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Shepherd gave the Owls their first lead, 21-14, with a 3-yard run late in the third quarter. The Lions fought back with a Blake Dever 30-yard TD pass to Takairee Kenebrew, followed by Contorno’s field goal to go up 24-21.

On the game-winning drive, Shepherd completed all three passes and kept the ball three times for short gains.

Dever threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns against one interception, Cortez Hall made five catches for 96 yards and a TD for North Alabama.