Charleston Southern's hopes to stay in the mix for a third consecutive Big South title ended on Saturday afternoon as the Buccaneers fell on the road at Kennesaw State, 38-0.
CSU (5-5, 2-2) turned the ball over four times and Kennesaw State (9-1, 4-0 racked up 343 rushing yards as the Bucs fell for the first time in series history to the Owls. The Buccaneers had previously won each of the previous two contests between the programs. The loss puts CSU two games behind both Kennesaw State and Monmouth in the Big South standings with one game to play.
The Buccaneers' offense struggled to get on track in the contest with CSU picking up 187 total yards of offense led by Noah Shuler's 39 rushing yards. London Johnson was 9-of-16 through the air for 79 yards, while Geoffrey Wall hauled in a career-high five catches for 40 yards in the game.
Kennesaw State's Darnell Holland paced the Owls to the early lead with three first half touchdowns, while Tommy Bryant and Bronson Rechsteiner also found the end zone for the Owls. KSU averaged 5.9 yards per carry in the contest and held the 32:16-27:44 time of possession edge in the contest.
Demetri Royer (11) and Solomon Brown (10) were back in double-digits in tackles for the Bucs, while Anthony Ellis finished with seven tackles and a team-high 1.5 tackles for loss in the game. Royer added a forced fumble near the goal line to prevent a KSU touchdown in the fourth quarter.
How They Scored
Kennesaw State was on the board first as Darnell Holland took the option pitch around the left end and went in from 21 yards out to cap a nine-play, 62-yard drive as the Owls went up 7-0 with 4:24 left in the first quarter.
Holland was back in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter as he took the handoff around the left end and fought through several defenders for the eight yard touchdown run. The Owls took the 14-0 lead following the six-play, 32-yard drive.
Holland was in the end zone for the third time in the first half with a one-yard touchdown carry to cap a six-play, 37-yard drive to put the Owls up 21-0 with 11:05 to play in the first half.
Justin Thompson connected on a 36-yard field goal to cap a 12-play, 63-yard drive to put the Owls on the board in the second half. Key to the drive was a 26-yard completion from Chandler Burks to Justin Sumpter on third-and-20 near midfield.
Bronson Rechsteiner added to the Owls' lead with a 26-yard touchdown run to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive with 7:34 to play in the contest.
Following a CSU turnover, Tommy Bryant went around the left end for a 51-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage to extend the Owls' lead to 38-0.
Inside the Numbers
Ronnie Harris provided the longest play from scrimmage for the night for the Buccaneers with a 26-yard run in the fourth quarter. The redshirt sophomore running back finished with five carries for 36 yards in the game.
Noah Shuler paced the Bucs with four carries for 39 yards in the game, averaging 9.8 yards per carry in the contest.
Robert Mitchell struggled in his first collegiate start with the senior quarterback going 0-for-3 with an interception and fumble over the first three drives.
Geoffrey Wall led CSU's receiving efforts with a game-high five catches for 40 yards. His five catches broke his previous career-high of two receptions set twice with the latest coming against Point this season.
Royer's 11 tackles marked the fifth time this season the redshirt freshman safety has eclipsed the double-digit mark this year.
Brown's 10 tackles gave him double-digit tackles in back-to-back games after picking up 10 last weekend at Gardner-Webb. The redshirt junior linebacker reached double-digits for the third time this season.
Kyle Reighard connected on a pair of 50-plus yard punts over his five attempts to finish with a 46.0 yards per attempt average. He placed one punt inside the 20.
Kennesaw State's 343 rushing yards were the first time this season the Bucs defense had allowed an opponent to crack the 300 yard mark this season. The previous high coming into the game was Mississippi State's 230 rushing yards set in the season opener.
Holland's 109 rushing yards was only the second time the Bucs have allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. Elon's Malcolm Summers was the first to crack the mark with 178 yards in the Bucs' September 16 matchup with the Phoenix.
News & Notes
Anthony Ellis became just the second player in Big South history to eclipsed the 50.0 career tackle for loss mark with his 1.5 tackles for loss this afternoon. He joins Gardner-Webb's Brian Johnston (53.5 TFL) as the only players in conference history to achieve the career milestone.
Kennesaw State's shutout of the Bucs marked the third season in CSU history that the Bucs have been held scoreless in three games. The Bucs suffered three shutouts in both the 1992 and the 1998 seasons.
CSU's loss on Saturday snapped the Big South's longest road conference winning streak at nine games. The Bucs established the new conference standard during the streak that dates back to CSU's 27-0 win over Monmouth on November 1, 2014.
KSU's 343 rushing yards were the first time an opponent has eclipsed the 300-yard mark since Jacksonville State rushed for 506 yards in the FCS Quarterfinal matchup in 2015.
Charleston Southern returns home to close out the 2017 season against Liberty at Buccaneer Field. The Buccaneers will recognize the 2017 senior class prior to the game. Kickoff between the Bucs and the Flames is set for noon on College Football Down South.