The Kennesaw State Owls could taste the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs as they were up by two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter against ETSU on Saturday. But the Buccaneers scored 15 points in less than a minute to earn the 32-31 victory over the Owls in the second round.
With 5:02 remaining in the game, Owls kicker Nathan Robertson kicked a 45-yard field goal to give the Owls (11-2) the 31-17 lead. The Buccaneers responded with a 13-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Riddell to wide receiver Will Huzzie. With 1:28 remaining, ETSU (11-1) attempted an onside kick and recovered, leading to a Riddell 4-yard touchdown pass to running back Quay Holmes. The Buccaneers decided to go for two and were successful as Riddell found tight end Nate Adkins in the back of the end zone.
The Owls were down 17-7 early in the third quarter but were able to fight back and take the lead. Quarterback Jonathan Murphy, who took over for an injured Xavier Shepherd, threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Glover with 8:19 remaining in the third to cut the lead to three. Later in the third, the Owls took the lead when Murphy scored on a 1-yard run. Murphy would score again earlier in the fourth on a 9-yard run to increase the Owls lead to 11.
Murphy finished the game with 125 passing yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 164 yards and two scores. His first TD pass came in the second quarter when he found Iaan Cousin for a 50-yard reception to tie the game at seven.
The Owls outgained ETSU in total yards (457-308) yards per play (6.1-5.0) and first downs (23-19). ETSU’s win over KSU ends the Owls’ 10-game win streak, the second-longest in school history.
KSU finishes the season with 11 wins, for the fourth consecutive season (not including the 2021 spring season). The team has won the Big South Conference Championship three of the last five years and has reached the FCS playoffs four of the last five seasons.