KENNESAW — Tommy Bryant scored three touchdowns and the Kennesaw State defense held Shorter to 160 yards of total offense, forced three turnovers and had six sacks as the Owls won the spring season opener 35-3 Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
While the score may look as if Kennesaw State (1-0) dominated the game, there were a lot of things that coach Brian Bohannon would have an opportunity to fix over the next two weeks before the team faces Charleston Southern in its Big South Conference opener.
One of the main things will be ball security.
The Owls fumbled the ball four times, losing two, and threw an interception. Despite that, they still rolled up 338 total yards of offense, including 311 on the ground.
Former South Cobb quarterback Aeneas Dennis started at quarterback for Division II Shorter (0-1) and led the Hawks on a 13-play, 47-yard drive for a field goal to open the game.
Dennis played only the first series and was replaced by freshman Harold Cook.
The score remained 3-0 until the Owls finally put a couple drives together in the second quarter.
On Kennesaw State’s first drive of the quarter, it ground out yardage, going 61 yards in 10 plays. On the eighth play of the drive, facing a fourth-and-2 from the Shorter 15, Adeolu Adeleke went around the left side for 4 yards for a first down.
Three plays later, Bryant scored on a 4-yard run to put Kennesaw State on top 7-3.
On the first play of the Owls’ ensuing drive, Shorter defensive lineman Bruce Guyton was injured making a tackle with 6:44 left in the half and laid face down on the field as the training staffs of both programs tended to him. The entire Shorter team left the sideline and kneeled near Guyton.
After more than a 10-minute delay, the junior from Dublin was strapped to a board, put on a cart and taken off the field to a waiting ambulance. No update on his condition was available immediately after the game.
With 3:13 left in the half, Kennesaw State took over at the Shorter 49-yard line and needed five plays to reach the end zone. Bryant connected with Shaquil Terry on the only pass completion of the day — a 27-yarder down to the 11-yard line — and Bryant finished the deal going over on a 2-yard run for a 14-3 halftime lead.
Kennesaw State opened the third quarter with the ball and drove to the Shorter 32, where he was intercepted by Xavier Robinson. However, only two plays later, Cook was sacked by Tyler Moore and fumbled the ball.
Owls linebacker Kareem Taylor, a former Shorter player, picked it up and returned it 17 yards to the Shorter 14-yard line. Two plays later, Kyle Glover scored from 10 yards out to make it 21-3.
Glover finished with a game-high 87 rushing yards.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Shorter was forced to punt from its own end zone. Isaac Foster, who ran for 65 yards on five carries, fair-caught the punt at the Hawks’ 33-yard line, and the Owls used 10 plays and almost 5 minutes of clock time before Bryant scored from 1 yard out to put the Owls up 28-3.
Bryant finished with 34 yards on 14 carries.
Backup quarterback Jonathan Murphy added the final touchdown of the day on an 18-yard run up the middle.
Cook was 18-of-24 for 79 yards, while Jaiden Dollard rushed for 53 yards for Shorter, which was outgained 338-160 in its season opener.