KENNESAW, Ga. — Four Kennesaw State cheerleaders took a knee in the tunnel during the national anthem at the Gardner-Webb-Kennesaw State game on Saturday night.

The cheerleaders first knelt during the national anthem at a Sept. 30 football game to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

Twice during the past week there were protests on campus in support of the cheerleaders. But on game night at Fifth Third Bank Stadium there were no other prominent signs of organized protest or demonstration other than a small group of fans who gathered in a circle on the concourse to take a knee. Most spectators stood during the anthem, some fans around the stadium remained seated and others stood with a raised fist.

The game proceeded without incident.

Akebren Ralls intercepted two passes and Chandler Burks accounted for both Kennesaw State touchdowns to help the Owls celebrate their homecoming weekend with a 17-3 win over Gardner-Webb.

Burks gave Kennesaw State (6-1, 4-0 Big South Conference) a 10-0 lead with a 53-yard pass to Xavier Harper 11:33 left in the second quarter. Burks then ran in a 1-yard keeper to cap the Owls’ scoring with 41 seconds left in the half.

Burks finished with 144 yards passing and 69 yards rushing. Jake McKenzie ran for 119 yards on 22 carries.

Tyrell Maxwell passed for 114 yards and three interceptions for Gardner-Webb (1-6, 0-4).

Kennesaw State officials made the decision to keep the cheerleaders in the tunnel ahead of football games, claiming it had nothing to do with their protest or message. The university’s actions prompted a special review by the University System of Georgia.


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