N.C. A&T found the road in the Big South Conference to be a rough one as 15th-ranked Kennesaw State won 14-0 on Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
The Aggies knew the triple-option offense of the Owls would be tough to defend, but the Owls’ defense was even more impressive.
The Aggies (2-1 Big South, 3-3 overall) were shut out for the first time since Oct. 4, 2014 in a 13-0 loss to S.C. State.
The Owls (2-0, 5-1) held the Aggies to just 31 rushing yards and quarterback Jalen Fowler couldn’t bail them out with his arm. Fowler struggled at 14 of 35 passing for 176 yards. Running back Jah-Maine Martin was held to 21 yards on 11 carries and was the Aggies’ leading rusher in the game.
Aggies coach Sam Washington said he was impressed by the Owls’ defense.
“They were good tonight,” Washington said. “I didn’t think they were this good coming into the game. We thought they were a good defense, but not shutout good. I thought their movement up front was very good. I thought a lot of the stuff that happened was on us. I thought they knocked us off the ball tonight. We allowed too much penetration, so it was more of what we did not do.”
The only scoring in the first half came on quarterback Xavier Shepherd’s 3-yard run in the second quarter for the Owls. The touchdown was set up by a long completion by Shepherd.
Helping keep the Aggies in the game in the first half was a defense that created three turnovers. But the offense couldn’t take advantage.
Shepherd scored again in the third quarter after the Owls grabbed great field position after pinning the Aggies back. Shepherd scored on a 1-yard run to make the score 14-0 after the point-after attempt with 2:53 left in the third quarter.
After the Owls missed a field-goal attempt, the Aggies drove down and had a fourth-and-1 deep in the Owls territory but Fowler came up short on a sneak. The Owls took over on downs with 6:16 left in the game.
Fowler and the Aggies offense never got on track and failed to establish any kind of a running game.
The Owls rushed for 222 yards and Shepherd was 6 of 13 passing for 129 yards, keeping the Aggies’ defense off balance just enough. Shepherd was also the Owls leading rusher with 66 yards on 25 carries.
The Aggies also struggled with their special teams. Freshman Andrew Brown missed a 25-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter and also missed a 36-yarder in the second quarter. Heading into the game Brown, a West Davidson graduate, was 8 of 9 on field-goal attempts in the Aggies’ first five games.
Notes: N.C. A&T will visit a familiar program on Saturday with a road game at Hampton, another former MEAC member. The Aggies and Pirates will play at 2 p.m…. Kennesaw State will play at Campbell on Saturday at 4 p.m. in another key Big South Conference game…. The Aggies managed just eight rushing yards in the first half as they trailed 7-0 at halftime.
N.C. A&T 0 0 0 0 — 0
K. State 0 7 7 0 — 14
K – Shepherd 3 run (Robertson kick)
K – Shepherd 1 run (Robertson kick)
A – 9,556