Bobcats unable to fend off Kennesaw State

The Bobcats took on non-conference opponent Kennesaw State last weekend at Bobcat Stadium. Neither team had met before, as this is only KSU’s third year with a football program. Despite being a new program, the Owls won seven straight games coming into this past weekend and were ranked 25th overall in the FCS.

Kennesaw State received the first-half kickoff and put together a long 17-play, 89-yard drive, ultimately ending in a touchdown, putting them ahead of the Bobcats 7-0 with about six minutes left in the first quarter. The Cats responded by producing an equally successful opening drive. With some help from sophomore quarterback Chris Murray’s crafty running ability and receptions from junior running back Logan Jones and senior wide receiver Mitchell Herbert, the Bobcats were able to move the ball all the way to KSU’s seven-yard line. The next play, Murray scrambled for seven yards to put MSU on the board, evening out the contest 7-7.

Most of the second quarter turned out to be a stalemate, with each team punting the ball three times. It was not until the end of the second quarter that Kennesaw State moved downfield to kick a 35-yard field goal, putting the Owls ahead of the Cats 10-7 going into half.

The Bobcats received the opening kickoff to begin the second half. MSU put together an impressive nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped off with a stunning 37-yard touchdown pass to Herbert. This was Herbert’s 20th touchdown reception as a Bobcat, putting him one shy of the all-time record held by Kelly Davis. The Owls responded on their next drive by kicking a 40-yard field goal, making the score 14-13.

The Owls methodical offense marched down the field, slowly bleeding the clock dry until finally kicking a 37-yard field goal after a 12-minute, 20-play drive. MSU’s offense got the ball back with only two minutes left in the game, down 16-14.  Freshman running back Tyrel Burgess had a nice kick return to the Cat’s 33-yard line. The first play of the drive, Murray completed a pass to junior wide receiver Jabarri Johnson all the way to Kennesaw’s 42-yard line. There was hope that the Cats would get into field goal range, until two plays later when Murray sailed a pass intended for sophomore wide receiver Kevin Kassis, and an Owls defender intercepted it. With only a minute left on the clock, Kennesaw State ran out the clock to close out the game in front of the Cats 16-14.

After the game, Head Coach Jeff Choate talked about Kennesaw State, saying, “The style they play on offense is going to be low scoring, it’s going to be grinding it out,” but ultimately credited KSU with a good game. Being an option team, the Owls’ unconventional offense aided in their win, allowing them to control the football for nearly 40 minutes out of the 60-minute contest.

MSU will travel next weekend to take on another ranked opponent. This time, it will be No. 18 in the country and conference adversary, Northern Arizona. The game is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Montana State wide receiver Jabarri Johnson (81) is tackled by Kennesaw State players during a NCAA football game in Bozeman, Mont. Saturday, Nov. 04, 2017. Photo by Braeden Roesler / MSU Exponent