A great beginning

Kennesaw State Owls take the field on home turf Saturday

Kennesaw State football treats fans to home opening win Click here for photos of the extraordinary…

Georgia (Sep 14, 2015)

Kennesaw State football treats fans to home opening win

Click here for photos of the extraordinary day and the behind the scenes of the Owls' first home game

KENNESAW, Ga. (Sept. 14, 2015) — The Kennesaw State University community redefined what Saturdays in the fall are all about this week when Owls Football arrived on campus for the first time.

In one afternoon on Saturday, the area around Fifth Third Bank Stadium was transformed as fans by the thousands celebrated KSU’s opening home game against Edward Waters College. By game time, the excitement reached a fever pitch and carried the momentum onto the field as the Owls won easily over the Tigers, 58-7, and improved to 2-0 on the season.

“That crowd was phenomenal,” said Kennesaw State head coach Brian Bohannon. “The student section, the packed house was phenomenal. I don’t know if I’ve been part of an atmosphere like this in a long, long time; and I’ve been in some pretty big venues in my coaching career. That atmosphere out there today was unbelievable.”

While the game did not start until after 4 p.m., the fans started bringing out their tailgating gear hours earlier, lining every parking lot with tents, grills and dozens of cornhole boards for hours of pregame excitement.

Kennesaw State students were a sea of black and gold as they set up a massive tailgating area behind the old Brandsmart building.

Early in the afternoon, hundreds of students, alumni and fans lined up next to the stadium for the first Owl Walk, as Kennesaw State players and coaches marched into the locker room for the first time.

As game time approached inside the stadium, the 9,506 fans who made it inside were clearly ready for some football, as the full student section chanted “K-S-U” and the marching band revved up the excitement. The players emerged onto the field through a cloud of smoke, sending the crowd into a frenzy. By the time two Alabama Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcons soared overhead, the stadium was ecstatic.

And on this historic first day of football, the action on the field was all Kennesaw State, all the time. Pretty much the only thing that did not go the Owls’ way all day was the opening coin flip, but even that ultimately worked in KSU’s favor.

On the second play from scrimmage just 1 minute into the game, the swarming Owls defense caused a fumble, which KSU offensive lineman Izzy Sam nabbed and took 11 yards for the first touchdown.

A little more than 2 minutes later, when the Kennesaw State offense touched the ball for the first time, quarterback Trey White found receiver Justin Sumpter as he streaked down the left for a 55-yard touchdown.

“Early on, everybody could tell the effort was pretty good. The guys were just playing hard, flying around, having a good time, enjoying the atmosphere,” Bohannon said. “When they came on the field, they fed on that energy the fans brought into the game – they added to it and made it even better.”

The Owls would score three more touchdowns in the first quarter alone – two scoring runs by White (21 yards and 1 yard) and another 1-yard run by backup quarterback Jake McKenzie – and took a commanding 52-0 halftime lead, as they added a 43-yard field goal by kicker Justin Thompson, a 22-yard fumble recovery by McKenzie Billingslea, and an 8-yard run by running back Darnell Holland.

Kennesaw State’s performance was so dominating, that the game officials cut eight minutes off the clock during the second half.

But by then, the Owls had already given the frenzied crowd more than enough excitement to mark the historic first game.

“I’m proud of our guys, proud of the community, proud of the university, and proud about being 2-0,” Bohannon said.


– Scott Wiltsee



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu