In a game that featured over 800 yards of total offense, 168 penalty yards and three lead changes, Kennesaw Mountain emerged with a 35-28 road win at Hiram in both teams’ season openers on Friday night.
“This isn’t the same Kennesaw,” Mustangs coach Andy Scott said. “I’ve tried to impress upon the kids the old adage of suffering and success. This is the most talented group we’ve had and can’t let the past dictate our future. We were able to move the ball down the field and felt like if we were able to tone their offense down, we could get the win. Our kids didn’t get tired which was huge for us.”
Trailing 21-14 at halftime, the Mustangs (1-0) scored on their first possession of the second half on a 44-yard touchdown run by Keyon Brooks on a third and- 1 play, rushing the ball down the right sideline. He had a team-high 184 rushing yards on 26 carries.
After forcing a punt, Kennesaw Mountain took its second lead on a 22-yard touchdown run by Tony Mack, making the score 28-21.
Hiram (0-1) tied the score on its next possession when Nate Presnell connected with Jermaine Banks on a 25-yard touchdown pass at the 2:18 mark of the third quarter. Presnell threw for a game-high 200 yards.
The Mustangs took the lead for good with 10:45 left in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run by Mack. He rushed for 83 yards on 12 carries.
“I believe we have the best two running backs in the state,” Scott said.
Hiram got the ball back down seven with 1:33 left in the contest but Kennesaw Mountain’s defense managed to sack Presnell two times in the possession to stall the drive and secure the victory.
“We got stops when we had to,” Scott said. “We also ran the ball well which cut down Hiram’s possessions.”
The Mustangs finished with 358 rushing yards and 53 passing yards.
Kennesaw Mountain scored the lone points in the first quarter on Brooks’ 9-yard touchdown run. Hiram scored 21 consecutive points in the second quarter courtesy of two touchdown runs by Murray and a touchdown catch by Josh Martin.
The Mustangs responded when quarterback Jarrett Guest kept the ball on an option play and ran 5 yards down the right side to tie the score with 3:09 left in the first half. He finished the night with 105 yards of total offense – 62 rushing and 53 passing.
By Marcel Pourtout
MDJ Sports Writer