Penn State Loses To Kentucky 27-24 In Citrus Bowl
No. 12 Penn State lost to No. 14 Kentucky 27-24 Tuesday in the 73rd annual Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
The Nittany Lions scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to catch the Wildcats, who capped off their third 10-win season in program history.
How It Happened
After a failed fake punt on Penn State’s opening drive, the Wildcats quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to Miles Butler’s 28-yard field goal. On the opposite end of the field, Jake Pinegar missed his 40-yard attempt wide right following Josh Allen’s first of three sacks.
Trace McSorley barely avoided a safety on Penn State’s next series before Lynn Bowden Jr. returned the ensuing punt 58 yards for a touchdown to make it 10-0. KJ Hamler’s 41-yard reception set up a 1-yard Nick Bowers touchdown catch for Penn State’s first points of the game.
Pinegar’s second field goal attempt of the afternoon was blocked to keep it 10-7. Somehow neither team converted a third down in the first half, as the Nittany Lions and Wildcats combined to go 0-for-15 heading into the intermission.
Penn State linebacker Cam Brown was ejected for targeting early in the third quarter before Kentucky scored on a 2-yard Benny Snell Jr. rushing touchdown. The Wildcats extended their lead to 20-7 after another 28-yard field goal from Butler, then Snell became Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher on his 12-yard touchdown up the middle.
McSorley gave the Nittany Lions some life with a 1-yard rushing touchdown despite suffering an apparent right leg injury, then freshman tight end Pat Freiermuth muscled his way into the end zone for an 18-yard score. Pinegar drilled a 32-yarder to cut the deficit to 27-24 with 4:12 to play, but Kentucky ran out the clock after Penn State couldn’t get a stop. Freshman linebacker Micah Parsons had a game-high 13 tackles and a forced fumble in the loss.
“We led the Big Ten in passing the last two years and we weren’t able to consistently throw the ball this year,” James Franklin said postgame. “We had too many drops. That showed up again today. To me, that’s the biggest issue with our offense this year.”
Player of the Game
Benny Snell Jr. | Running back
Snell, who’s already declared for the 2019 NFL draft, finished his Kentucky career with 26 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He was named the Citrus Bowl MVP.
The Nittany Lions (9-4) return to State College for spring practice and the traditional national signing day on February 6.
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About the Author
The Nittany Lions’ offense had 586 total yards en route to a shutout win to end the season.
Head coach Mike Rhoades lost his first matchup against his former team.
The Nittany Lions had 586 offensive yards and five touchdowns against the Spartans.