(8-2) Kennesaw State 45, (2-8) Presbyterian 10
Kennesaw avenged last year’s loss to Presbyterian in a big way.
Early on, it was the Chaston Bennett Show for KSU and that’s all the show they would need. Bennett scored twice in the first seven minutes of the game, once on a 47-yard run and then on a 36-yard pass from Chandler Burks. Those two touchdowns spotted the Owls a 14-0 lead against a Presbyterian offense that had been held to a touchdown or less in six of their nine games on the season.
After Bennett’s brace of touchdowns, the Blue Hose did manage to put together a drive that got as far as the KSU 8-yard line but had to settle for a field goal that cut the lead to 14-3. From there on, however, it was all Kennesaw State. Justin Thompson stroked a field goal of his own and Justin Sumpter hauled in a short TD pass to give the home Owls a 24-3 halftime lead.
After the break, the KSU defense forced a Presby punt and their offense went right back to work. Burks hit Xavier Harper for a 46-yard score and the rout was on. The only highlight for PC came late in the quarter when KSU coughed up the ball deep in their own territory and set the Blue Hose up on the 9-yard line. Even so, the Owls almost held PC out of the end zone again but an unsportsmanlike conduct on KSU set Presby up with 1st-and-goal inside the KSU 1. From there, Presbyterian QB Ben Cheek called his own number and dove into the end zone for PC’s only touchdown of the day and only their 10th on the season.
All three KSU quarterbacks got on the scoring sheet for the afternoon. Trey White added another score for KSU in the 4th quarter and Daniel David threw a mop-up duty touchdown to TJ Reed to round out the final tally.
What does this win mean for Kennesaw? – Given the results of the Charleston Southern-Liberty game, KSU is now right back in the hunt for a share of the conference title. It should be remarkable that a program in just their second year of existence could win the conference title, except that the last start-up program in the Big South – Coastal Carolina – did just that in their second year as well (2004).
What does this loss mean for Presbyterian? – Not much. At this point, it’s just one more mile marker on the road to Thanksgiving.
(6-3) Charleston Southern 48, (6-4) Liberty 26
What had shaped up to be a slug-fest at the top of the Big South standings turned out to be anything but. For Charleston Southern, it was a return to the efficient form they hadn’t shown since defeating Coastal Carolina over a month ago. For Liberty, it was the Jacksonville State game all over again.
It started off pretty promising for Liberty, however. For the second week in a row, the Liberty defense forced a turnover on the second play of the game. This time it was CB Chris Turner picking off an out route to WR Kam Brown. Turner was headed for a game-opening pick-six when Brown got just enough of his ankle to make him lose his balance and Turner windmill-ed to the ground at the CSU 14. That’s when the problems first started to show for the Flames. Set up in prime field position, the LU offense simply did not execute. They actually lost a yard on the possession and had to settle for a field goal.
Getting the ball back, CSU worked their way down the field and QB Shane Bucenell hit TE Travay Hatten for a short pass over the middle and he dragged a Liberty defender into the end zone to put CSU up 7-3. Liberty came back down the field, mostly on the back of RB Carrington Mosely and added another field goal to cut the lead to 7-6 just before the 1st quarter whistle. CSU, however, got a monster kickoff return from Darius Hammond and added a field goal of their own to start the second quarter.
This is where the wheels really fell off for Liberty. The passing game for LU completely fell apart with QB Buckshot Calvert completely missing open receivers and those open receivers dropping passes when the pass was on target. Calvert’s passing line for the 2nd quarter was 1-10 for 12 yards and with one interception. That interception came when the ball bounced out of his intended receiver’s hands and into the arms of the defender who was laying on the ground behind him. It was that kind of night.
On the CSU side, they had everything clicking – or mostly so – in the second quarter. RB Ben Robinson scored on a run off right tackle and Bucenell found RB Mike Holloway in single coverage over the middle for another touchdown. After the above-mentioned interception gave CSU the ball at Liberty’s 45-yard line – and with a 24-6 lead – Bucenell simply heaved the ball up in the air in the general direction of Kam Brown. Brown and Chris Turner essentially fought for rebound position with Brown winning the battle and hauling in the touchdown pass giving the Bucs a 31-6 lead with five minutes remaining in the half.
CSU’s next two drives would end in interceptions as Turner picked off another Bucenell pass intended for Brown and Tyron Holloway intercepted CSU’s “other” QB Robert Mitchell in the end zone to close the half. The damage, however, had been done. Liberty’s offense again sputtered coming out of an extended halftime break and, given the ball, Bucenell put the game away for good. The Flames’ defense gambled with a full blitz and Bucenell, keeping the ball himself, ran straight up the middle for 57 of his 65 rushing yards on the night and gave CSU a 38-6 lead.
Liberty would eventually – but too late – find some offensive footing. TE Kendall Couamin got behind the CSU defense for a 65-yard touchdown pass up the home sideline from Calvert and the Flames would add two more scores through the air to WR’s BJ Farrow and Dante Shells. CSU added another field goal and a 1-yard plunge from Mitchell to settle the scoring.
What does this win mean for CSU? – The Bucs absolutely had to win to keep their postseason hopes alive and they did. It was their most complete game in over a month.
What does this loss mean for Liberty? – The Flames’ postseason hopes are now out of their hands. Liberty is now 14-3 under Turner Gill in the month of November with all three losses coming against Charleston Southern.
Big South Standings:
Liberty 4-1 6-4 overall
Charleston Southern 3-1 6-3 overall
Kennesaw State 3-1 8-2 overall
Gardner-Webb 2-2 4-6 overall
Presbyterian 1-4 2-8 overall
Monmouth 0-4 4-6 overall
Implications of the week (playoffs included):
- Liberty is guaranteed at least a piece of the Big South title but they will split it with either CSU or Kennesaw. If KSU beats CSU on Saturday, Liberty wins the autobid. With six D1 wins, Liberty is eligible for an at-large bid to the playoffs but theirs is a resume with zero quality wins.
- Charleston Southern can win a share of the title and the autobid by defeating Kennesaw State at home. Charleston Southern CANNOT win an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs. The Bucs only have five D1 wins in hand and must win their last game just to be playoff-eligible.
- Kennesaw State will be playing for a share of the Big South title this weekend but cannot win the autobid. Even at 8-2, Kennesaw’s at-large resume is pretty lacking. Three of those wins are against sub-D1 programs and the other OOC wins are Duquesne (currently sitting in 2nd place in the limited-schollie NEC) and Furman (currently 3-7). Beating CSU would add an absolutely necessary quality win to the Owls record but would that be enough to balance out a season-opening double OT loss to ETSU?
- Presbyterian is gamely playing out the poker hand they were dealt. Unfortunately, that hand is just a bunch of red UNO cards.