ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – University of Kentucky Wildcats and the Penn State Nittany Lions faced off in a heated battle at Camping World Stadium New Year’s Day before 59,000+ raving fans.
Kentucky started the scoring first and got two in before Penn State did. The first was Miles Butler’s 28-yard field goal, and the second was Lynn Bowden Jr.’s 58-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first punt return to happen in the Citrus Bowl since 1992.
Penn State got on the board with a touchdown at the end of their drive with Trace McSorley’s one-yard pass to Nick Bowers in the end zone at the beginning of the second quarter. They attempted two field goals, one in each quarter, which were both short. The score at halftime was 10-7 Kentucky. Both teams had no third down conversions.
Three minutes into the third quarter, Kentucky got their next touchdown with Benny Snell, Jr. rushing for 32 yards during the drive, leading to a pass to Bowden, who caught the ball but was head-butted on the way down by Penn State’s Cam Brown, who was charged with targeting and ejected from the game. UK finished the job with a two-yard run into the end zone, making the score 17-7.
With 3:48 in the quarter, Kentucky widened the lead with another field goal, this one from the 28 yard line, making the score 20-7. At close to two minutes, Snell rushed the ball into the end zone for another Kentucky touchdown, officially making him the all-time rushing leader for the University of Kentucky and the score 27-7.
At the start of the fourth, Penn State got back on the board with their second touchdown with Trace McSorley rushing for one yard into the end zone, making the score 27-14. Up to that point in the game, McSorley was 10 of 22 for 129 yards with one interception and the one touchdown.
McSorley, after running the ball himself to get the team into the red zone, made a successful 18-yard touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth for their third touchdown, closing the gap to 27-21 after the extra kick.
Penn State scored one last time with Jake Pinegar’s successful field goal from the 32 yard line with 4:12 left in the game, but Kentucky stopped them for the rest of the game. Kentucky didn’t score at all in the fourth, making the final score 27-24.
Penn State Head Coach James Franklin gave credit to Kentucky for the win during the postgame press conference.
“Got to give Kentucky credit. They played really well for four quarters. We didn’t play well for four quarters. We played a really good second half. And against good football teams, you can’t do that. We didn’t make plays in the first half. If you look at it statistically, our defense played extremely well in the first half. Our offense outgained them, but we didn’t make plays. We had opportunities to make plays. Really, the same thing that troubled us throughout the season troubled us here again today…” -Penn State Head Coach James Franklin on the game’s outcome
Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops was vocal about why the victory was so important.
“Just as I mentioned on the podium accepting the trophy, it was extremely important to this team, to all of us, to come home with some hardware, to come home with a trophy. This team, these seniors and, of course, Benny — you look at him as a senior because he’s been so steady for the three years he’s been here, and he’s been a big piece of it with those seniors. They’ve just done so much.” – University of Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops on the significance of the victory
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org