Owls celebrate inaugural football game with a 56-16 win

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A historic night of firsts adds up to victory for Kennesaw State football JOHNSON CITY, Tenn….

Georgia (Sep 4, 2015)A historic night of firsts adds up to victory for Kennesaw State football

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn.  (Sept. 4, 2015) – There was a moment at the end of Kennesaw State University’s inaugural football game on Thursday night when nearly three years of emotional build-up finally had the chance for release.

Fresh off their decisive 56-16 victory over East Tennessee State University, the Kennesaw State players were bursting with energy as they started toward the locker room. That’s when head coach Brian Bohannon pointed toward a corner of the visitors’ stands, where the more than 500 Owls football fans who had made the trip to Johnson City, Tenn., were celebrating the win.

Without missing a beat, the entire team started sprinting down the field, gathering to sing the KSU Fight Song for the Owl faithful and sharing in the unbridled joy of a fledgling football program starting its first season with a victory. And with timing that could not be any more apt, a fireworks display pre-planned by ETSU started going off, setting a perfect backdrop for Kennesaw State’s moment.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Bohannon of the first game and the win. “The work these kids have put in, and this staff has put in, over the last two and a half years for me and some others and for them to come out and have a positive night that we can build on – hugging each one of them after the game – that's what it's about.”

The Owls fans, both in attendance and watching the game online, were treated to some exciting moments on both sides of the ball, as the offense started rolling toward the end of the first half, and the defense kept the Buccaneers at bay, despite a few opening night jitters early in the game.

It was a night of many “firsts” for KSU, as the team had the opportunity to put months of practice into an actual game. Quarterback Trey White scored Kennesaw State’s first touchdown, a 6-yard run late in the first quarter, capping off the Owls’ first offensive possession. The first interception came near the end of the first half, when defensive lineman Nick Perrotta returned a 19-yard pick into the end zone. The first touchdown reception belonged to wide receiver Justin Sumpter, who scored on a 69-yard pass from White to start the third quarter.

Overall, seven different Kennesaw State players put the ball in the end zone for what would be the team’s first rout.

“They fought and fought,” Bohannon said. “We talked at halftime; coming out, we were going to finish things off. They did a great job of that. I’m extremely proud of them and our staff as well.”

Bohannon himself received his first game ball, which Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp presented to him in the locker room after the win.

The game was a culmination of years of preparation, which began in early 2013 when the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved a football program for Kennesaw State. Since then, Bohannon and his coaching staff have been preparing the young players with multiple practices and intra-squad scrimmages. But nothing compared with the real thing, which gave the Owls the opportunity to see another young team in action.

“The way things finished, and to see their faces after all they've done, it just couldn't end any better,” 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