Murphy, Defense Lead Owls to Win in Home Opener Against Wofford

The Kennesaw State Owls were happy to be back home. The football team played their last three games on the road dating back to the playoff loss to ETSU last year. And after going 0-2 to start the 2022 campaign, KSU was hungry for a win. Despite miscues on offense and the defense allowing nearly 400 yards, the Owls hung tough for a 24-22 victory over the Wofford Terriers at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our football team tonight,” Owls head coach Brian Bohannon said after the game. “We struggled working through some things. I think you guys have followed us early in the year where we haven’t played particularly well, there’s a lot of things we’re fighting through. I challenged them in the opening week, man, about your fight and your passion.”

KSU (1-2) was up 24-9 early in the fourth quarter after Nathan Robertson kicked a 35-yard field goal. Wofford would score twice to trim the lead to two, and the Terriers were driving down the field with just seven seconds remaining in the game. But Owls defensive lineman Joel Paker sacked Wofford quarterback Jimmy Weirick to seal the victory.

Wofford scored on the game’s opening drive to take a 6-0 lead. But the Owls answered on the ensuing drive when quarterback Jonathan Murphy scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Later in the first quarter, cornerback Markeith Montgomery intercepted a Wofford (0-4) pass and returned it 78-yards for a score. The interception is the longest return for a touchdown in KSU history.

“Huge,” Bohannon said about the interception. “You know those, it’s we talked so much about energy and enthusiasm. And I talk to our guys all the time about building mental energy. Your thoughts are powerful. Your thoughts are powerful. I’m going to think about making yourself. I’m going to think about making a play, it builds energy.”

Murphy, who was named the starting quarterback over Xavier Shepherd earlier in the week, scored on a three-yard run early in the third quarter to give the Owls the 21-9 lead. He finished the day with 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns and 107 passing yards. The Owls rushed for 221 yards, making it the 18th consecutive game they have rushed for over 200 yards on their home field.

“I mean the switch was made because he earned the right to go start,” Bohannon said. “He earned that. And we told both of them going in the game, we didn’t necessarily have a plan. We’re going to go try to win this game. And we’ve had dialogue with both those guys on a regular basis, but I thought he did some good things. I thought he made some plays.”

The Owls will travel to Jacksonville State next week for the team’s first Atlantic Sun Conference matchup. They will be back at home on Oct. 8 to face North Alabama and will remain at home the for the rest of October.

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