By MORGANA KENNEDY
KENNESAW, Ga. – The Fifth Third Bank Stadium erupted with the cheers of Owl fans as Nick Perotta intercepted a pass at the goal line with :07 left to lock in Kennesaw State 12-7 win against Gardner-Webb University on Saturday.
The Bulldogs just needed to make a touchdown to win the game. Gardner-Webb’s quarterback Tyrell Maxwell dropped back and threw toward the end zone, but the Owls junior defensive lineman prevented the pass from being completed.
Perotta helped the Owls make history. The victory marked the first time since 2002 that a newcomer won its first Big South Conference game.
“To be able to make a play at the end and help the team get a win was definitely an exciting moment,” Perotta said.
KSU’s defense proved it could stack up against more seasoned opponents. The Bulldogs are a larger team pound-for-pound, with several players weighing in at over 300 pounds. The Owls head coach Brian Bohannon credited the win to the way the Owls responded to the Bulldogs.
“I knew if we could get ahead two scores in the second half we were gonna wear the clock out, ‘cause I knew our defense could stop them,” Bohannon said.
Along with Perotta’s huge moment at the end of the game, freshman place kicker Justin Thompson made four field goals giving KSU its 12 points. Thompson tied a record for single game field goals in the BSC.
The Owls junior quarterback Trey White led the offense keeping possession of the ball for roughly 38 minutes throughout the game. Despite not being able to put it in the end zone it kept the ball out of the Bulldogs hands.
But the shining moment for Owls fans came in those last few seconds as Perotta ripped away any chance of Gardner-Webb taking the lead.
“It’s a big deal for program,” Bohannon said. “You talk about laying a foundation for stuff you can build on.”
This game also marked the Owls’ TV debut on ESPN3. The network broadcast the game live with Evan Lepler and Renaldo Wynn. The BSC returned to ESPN3 this season with eight football games being televised exclusively.
If the Owls can persevere, they’re bound to have more historic moments. They go on to play Liberty University next Saturday at 7 p.m. Gardner-Webb will play Charleston Southern University on Oct. 24 at 1:30 p.m.