Owls Drop Overtime Thriller on Opening Night

A sellout at Fifth Third Bank Stadium saw the Owls’ first overtime game


KENNESAW, Ga. — A sold-out crowd at Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium witnessed the stadium’s first nighttime football game, and its first-ever football overtime game, but visiting East Tennessee State escaped with a 20-17 victory Saturday night.

Sophomore WR Justin Sumpter reeled in a career-high six passes for 75 yards, and his 22-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-15 in overtime allowed the Owls’ to stay alive.

That score by Sumpter answered an ETSU touchdown on its first possession in overtime, forcing the second extra session. In that period, the Owls had the ball first and came up empty, setting the stage for ETSU kicker JJ Jerman to end it with a 24-yard field goal.

The Owls outgained the Buccaneers 338-320 in total yards, but the hosts were limited to just 166 yards on the ground as ETSU did its best to contain the Owls explosive rushing attack that was among the national leaders in 2015.

ETSU grabbed a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the Owls took a 7-3 lead to the break after QB Trey White capped a 10-play, 50-yard drive by diving into the end zone from nine yards out with two seconds on the clocked before halftime.

Jajuan Stinson’s one-yard touchdown run flipped the lead back to the visitors midway through the third quarter and the score remained 10-7 until KSU kicker Jordan Genovese booted a game-tying 41-yard field goal with 11:33 remaining in the fourth.


White carried the ball 22 times for the Owls, gaining 68 yards and reaching the end zone for the fifth time in his last seven games. Senior RB Micah Reed carried 17 times for 68 yards.


Kennesaw State limited ETSU to just 106 yards rushing and the defense was led by junior DE Tonarius Portress, who logged a career-high eight tackles and set a program single-game record with five tackles for loss. Sophomore LB Dez Billingslea made four tackles and was in a career-high two sacks.



“First of all, I wanted to say the environment with the student and the fans was awesome tonight. It made a big difference down the stretch when we were fighting our guts out trying to win a ballgame.” — head coach Brian Bohannon



Sumpter and backup QB Chandler Burks hooked up on a highlight-reel touchdown in overtime that kept the Owls hopes alive. With KSU down to fourth-and-15 at the ETSU 22 and the game hanging in the balance, Burks launched a pass to Sumpter that the 6-foot-5 sophomore pulled in with two defenders hanging on him to force a second overtime.


There were 23 combined penalties, totaling 14 in the game. KSU was flagged 11 times for 93 yards – the 11 fouls matching a program-high.


With Saturday night’s announced attendance of 8,574, the Owls have now sold out all seven home games in the program’s history.


Sumpter’s six catches… Braylon Young’s eight tackles…. Chandler Burk’s 90 passing yards… Xavier Harper’s three catches and 52 yards receiving… Tonarius Portress eight tackles and five tackles for loss… Akebren Ralls seven tackles.


True freshmen Dustin Clabough, Bronson Rechsteiner and Christian Kinsley made their college debuts on Saturday night

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