Owls progress to FCS quarterfinals after win over Wofford

With two offenses that run the triple-option offense, Kennesaw State’s second-round FCS playoff game against Wofford was another victory. On the wet field of Fifth-Third Bank Stadium, the Owls defeated the Terriers 13-10 on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Stuck in a stalemate with three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, KSU linebacker Anthony Gore Jr. made a decisive play that highlighted his career-best performance.

The game was tied 10-10 with the Terriers on offense facing a long third down. Instantly after snapping the ball, Wofford quarterback Joe Newman came face-to-face with defensive lineman Andrew Butcher.

Newman rolled to the right in an effort to sustain the play, only to meet Gore who punched the ball away. The fumble cost the Terriers’ possession and field position as Butcher recovered the ball.

“Knowing we just had to get the offense back on the field, knowing it was a hard-fought game, we kept fighting,” Gore said. “We knew if we got the offense back on the field, something special was going to happen.”

The turnover allowed Justin Thompson, who missed a 48-yard field goal on KSU’s previous drive, to redeem himself with a 30-yard field goal.

Winning the game allows the Owls to progress at least as far as last season, but their high ranking means they will host South Dakota State in the quarterfinals instead of traveling as they did last year.

Gore played his best game of the season, finishing with 12 tackles and a sack. He also had six tackles for loss and two stops for no gain before forcing the game-clinching fumble. Overall, the Owls had 13 tackles for loss and caused two turnovers.

While Gore had a career day, quarterback Chandler Burks and the KSU offense struggled to score in their usual manner. Burks did not have a rushing touchdown for the first time since the season opener against Georgia State, rushing for 7 yards and passing for 79 yards.

“I didn’t think it would be high scoring. We knew it was going to be arduous,” head coach Brian Bohannon said. “It was probably more arduous than we thought it would be.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Darnell Holland shrugged off three tackles before escaping for a 53-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second quarter.

Wofford responded on the next possession, as Newman connected with wide receiver D’mauriae Van Cleave on a 57-yard pass to tie the game.

The Terriers took their only lead when Luke Carter made a 45-yard field goal to put Wofford up 10-7. The lead was quickly erased before the end of the first half by a 40-yard field goal from Thompson.

“It’s one of those games,” Bohannon said. “We found a way. That was the bottom line.”

The Owls will host the Jackrabbits on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.

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