KENNESAW -- Bronson Rechsteiner had a breakout game last Saturday at Missouri State.
His 221 rushing yards broke the single-game record at Kennesaw State, bettering Darnell Holland's mark of 195 yards set last season at Monmouth.
Owls coach Brian Bohannon said the effort came from old-fashioned hard work.
"Bronson probably had the best week of practice since he’s been here," Bohannon said. "We’re down two backs, and he may be having to take even more reps than normal. He had a great week of practice and goes out on the field and has a heck of a game."
Rechsteiner, who was named the Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Week, had a touchdown run of 85 yards, which gave the Owls their first lead of the game, then added additional runs of 64 and 43 yards. The senior from Woodstock's Etowah High School also had a touchdown run of 36 yards against Point in the season opener and a 55-yard touchdown run against Alabama State.
In years past, Kennesaw State's big scoring strikes typically came from runs outside the tackles. The Owls showed that last Saturday, too, with Isaac Foster putting together touchdown runs of 75 and 67 yards after taking a pitch and going around the right side.
But the way Rechsteiner ran between the tackles -- or, in his case, straight up the middle -- is the kind of play that can make the Kennesaw State offense an even more dangerous one to defend.
"He brings a different element to the game now," Bohannon said. "When he can do that from inside, that brings a different element to the game."
Rechsteiner comes into this week's game against Reinhardt as Kennesaw State's leading rusher. For the season, he has 339 yards and three touchdowns on only 25 carries, which puts him second in the Big South Conference behind Monmouth's Pete Guerriero, who has 440 yards on 97 carries.
Rechsteiner came into the season with 559 rushing yards and two touchdowns for his career. That includes his freshman season, in which he primarily played on defense and special teams.
Those are numbers Bohannon can see Rechsteiner eclipsing in a big way.
"If he continues to practice like that, he can be the impact player we thought he could be all along," Bohannon said. "Hopefully. the switch has been flipped and he gets it.
"He’s an awesome kid, he’s fun to coach. I’m excited he’s having success. I’m also excited that his practice is why he’s having success."
STILL ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Helping Rechsteiner set his marks, while aiding Foster in running for a career-high 183 yards last week, was Kennesaw State's new-look offensive line.
The Owls' five new starters -- Jake Lassiter, Chris Dye, William Nana Fabu, Terrell Paxton and Zion Katina -- have coupled with backups Sean Brown, Zach Thompson and Matt Olson to help Kennesaw State become the best running team in the country -- FBS or FCS.
Through four games, the Owls are averaging 411.3 yards per game, ahead of Navy's 371. The next-best FCS team is Davidson (329.8).
For much of the game at Missouri State, Kennesaw State had offensive linemen 40, 50 and 60 yards down field picking up extra blocks. In one case, Nana Fabu pulled Foster out of the grasp of a Missouri State defender to help him get into the end zone.
"Once those guys do their job, that doesn’t end their job," Bohannon said. "They need to go block their assignment, but then they need to continue moving on down the field. The big plays you’ve seen here a lot of times, a lot of times there will be a caravan. Those would be guys that are really straining their bodies playing with championship effort. That is a positive."
Despite the success, Bohannon said there is a lot of work to do if the team is to reach its goals.
"I told our team on Monday that we overcame a lot of adversity. From missed tackles to penalties to poor execution to a turnover, it went wrong, but we overcame that on the road, which is easier said than done," Bohannon said. "The negative -- we should have never been in that situation. It was very self-inflicted, and that’s what has to get fixed.
"The positive was we overcame it. I think you see those big plays, but there should be more of them to be honest with you."
At its current pace, Kennesaw State would be 53.8 yards ahead of the Big South single-season record of 357.5 rushing yards per game, which was set by VMI in 2008. The Owls are also averaging 7.2 yards per rush -- which would also be the highest single-season average in conference history.