ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Kentucky Wildcats and Iowa Hawkeyes clashed hard for the Vrbo Citrus Bowl trophy before a roaring audience of over 50,700 fans at Camping World Stadium Saturday.
Kentucky got on the board first in the first quarter with Will Levis’s five-yard touchdown pass to Chris Rodriguez, and the defense ensured Iowa didn’t score at all in the first.
It’s worth noting that Kentucky’s defense needed to protect quarterback Will Levis a bit more, though. He first sack came in the first quarter.
Iowa finally got on the board early in the second quarter with a 28-yard field goal from Caleb Shudak at just over 11 minutes.
Though there were no touchdowns in the second quarter, Kentucky dominated the board.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis got sacked twice in the second for a loss of eight yards each, but he made up for his second sack on the very next play.
On the third down, he threw a 34-yard bomb to wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, who simultaneously nullified the 26 yards needed for the next first down plus gained eight for Kentucky. With 2:45 left in the first half, Kentucky’s Matt Ruffolo kicked a 21-yard field goal on the fourth down, since Iowa defense blocked the run game–which Kentucky quarterback Will Levis attempted himself.
Just as the clock hit zero for halftime, Iowa’s final play, Spencer Petras’ touchdown pass to Sam LaPorta, was intercepted by Kentucky’s Quandre Mosely right in the end zone, conveniently switching possession to Kentucky for third quarter.
With 3:21 left in the third quarter, Iowa finally got on the board with their first touchdown, courtesy of Arland Bruce IV running the ball 20 yards into the end zone. With the successful extra point, Iowa shrank Kentucky’s lead to 13-10.
Iowa scored their next touchdown–and snatched the lead–in the fourth quarter with just under 11 minutes left in the game, thanks to Spencer Petras’ successful 36-yard touchdown pass to Sam LaPorta, making the score 17-13.
When the win looked sure for Iowa, Kentucky made the ultimate comeback with Will Levis’s 52-yard pass to Wan’Dale Robinson who ran it into the end zone for a touchdown. In a pulse-pounding moment, the touchdown was nullified due to a false start penalty on Kentucky.
On the next play, Kentucky doubled down and got the touchdown for real thanks to Chris Rodriguez’s five-yard rush with 1:48 left in the fourth, reclaiming the lead, 20-17.
To add insult to injury, on Iowa’s following possession, Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras’ pass got intercepted by Deandre Square with just 48 seconds left in the game.
In the end, the Kentucky Wildcats nabbed the Vrbo Citrus Bowl trophy from the jaws of near-defeat, 20-17.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org