Kennesaw State defeated its northern suburban neighbor Reinhardt University 35-25 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Thursday night.

Kennesaw State took the first step towards a perfect season with a 35-25 win over its northern suburban neighbor Reinhardt University. The Owls used a steady stream of touchdowns to fend off the pesky Eagles.

The rumors that there is a big difference between teams from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are greatly embellished. Thursday night’s game featured two good football programs showing why they are at the top of the heap year after year.

Kennesaw State has amassed a hefty 52-16 record under head coach Brian Bohannon since the program started in 2015. Eagles head coach Jim Miller moved from the assistant’s chair to the head of the table for a program that has a 75-19 record, six regular season conference championships, and six playoff appearances including two appearances in the NAIA championship game.

It took a little over two minutes for the Owls to take flight. Nykeem Farrow’s 20-yard touchdown run capped a typical KSU drive. Quarterback Jonathan Murphy rolled out before tucking it and sprinting down the left side for a 36-yard gain. The speedy Farrow outraced two Eagles defenders before diving the final 3 yards.

How a team responds after getting punched in the face says a lot. Dylan Kelly returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to give the Eagles’ offense a short field. Two plays later and Navarie Solomon was standing in the end zone holding onto a 26-yard strike from senior quarterback Billy Hall.

The Owls responded with a pass-free 12-play, 74-yard scoring drive. KSU rolled up 332 of their 404 yards on the ground.

Eagles defensive line coach Cliff Matthews didn’t wait until halftime to talk to his big guys. He sat the lot down on the aluminum bleachers planted 15 yards behind the team and gave them an animated speech. Kennesaw State’s ground production went down every quarter thereafter 18-96 yards, 16-66 yards, and 17-32 yards.

Hall closed the scoring gap for the Eagles early in the third quarter with an 80-yard scamper through the teeth of the Owls’ defense. The teams traded a pair of touchdowns until Reinhardt’s defense bowed up and forced a punt with three seconds remaining in the third.

With the ball and trailing by nine, Reinhardt set about cutting deeper into the Owls’ lead. Hall’s first pass was picked off in fantastic fashion by Owls defensive back Welton Spottsville.

Spottsville’s play impressed his head coach. “[The interception] was pretty spectacular,” said Bohannon “He’s got great ball skills.” The play could not have come at a better time. Spottsville’s interception set up a 70-yard scoring drive.

There are few offensive possessions when two high-powered rushing attacks chew up the clock. Reinhardt scored two more touchdowns to close the gap to 10 with 6 minutes remaining. Replacement quarterback Xavier Shepherd, Farrow, and senior running back Adeolu Adeleke ate up over half of that time on an Owls drive that stalled at midfield.

Joel Parker picked up Isaiah Blake’s fumble to end any comeback threat the Eagles may have mounted in the final minutes.

Game Photo Gallery

All photos credit Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports

Reinhardt v Kennesaw St