Kentucky holds on to get win number 10, 27-24

Benny Snell, Jr. ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns to become Kentucky's career rushing leader and help the 16th-ranked Wildcats wrap up their best season in more than four decades with a 27-24 victory over No. 13 Penn State in the Citrus Bowl on Tuesday.

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UK Athletics)- Benny Snell, Jr. ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns to become Kentucky’s career rushing leader and help the 16th-ranked Wildcats wrap up their best season in more than four decades with a 27-24 victory over No. 13 Penn State in the Citrus Bowl on Tuesday.

Snell scored on runs of 2 and 12 yards in the second half, then carried for a couple of crucial first downs to help Kentucky (10-3) run out the clock after Penn State’s Trace McSorley trimmed a 27-7 deficit to three points despite playing with a foot injury.

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McSorley threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns, and the Nittany Lions’ career passing and wins leader also rushed for a team-high 75 yards on 19 attempts.

Lynn Bowden Jr. scored on a 58-yard punt return for Kentucky, and Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year Josh Allen had three of the Wildcats’ six sacks.

Penn State (9-4) trailed 27-7 entering the fourth quarter, but McSorley’s wasn’t finished. His 1-yard TD run capped a 75-yard drive, and he followed with an 18-yard TD pass to Pat Friermuth to cut Kentucky’s lead to six.

The Nittany Lions marched to the Kentucky 14 on their next possession to pull to within 27-24 with 4:12 left.

Thanks to Snell, a junior who already has declared for the NFL draft, McSorley didn’t get the ball back until just one second was left on the clock.

Kentucky finished with its first 10-win season since 1977, when the Wildcats went 10-1.

Snell broke Sonny Collins’ career rushing record on his 12-yard TD run that made it 27-7 late in the third quarter. Collins rushed for 3,835 yards from 1972-75.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kentucky: Facing a tradition-rich opponent in a New Year’s bowl was a big deal for the Wildcats, who made the most of the opportunity. Along with the three sacks, Allen blocked a field goal to key a strong defensive effort, while the offense shrugged off a slow start to help the Wildcats pull away in the second half.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions fell short of their goal to finish with 10 wins in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 1980-82. Three of their four losses were by a total of eight points.

UP NEXT

Kentucky: Wildcats look to build on success they’ve had under coach Mark Stoops, who has transformed them into a Top 25 team. Their 5-3 record in SEC play represented their first winning mark in the league in 41 years, spawning heightened expectations for 2019.

Penn State: Nittany Lions face challenge of replacing McSorley, the school’s career leader for wins, completions, passing yards, passing TDs, total offense and rushing TDs by a quarterback.

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Austin Miller joins ABC 36 Sports Team as a Sports Reporter and Weekend Anchor. Austin is from the Louisville area and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 2008. Austin graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a second concentration in German. While at IU, Austin was a blogger at Kentsterling.com and co-host, producer and engineer for WIUX, the school’s student radio station. Before coming to ABC 36, Austin was a news videographer at WLFI in West Lafayette from 2012-2015. While working with WLFI, Austin had the chance to cover the Purdue Boilermakers. He then accepted a Sports/New Reporter position at Local 4 KSNB-TV in Hastings Nebraska and was eventually promoted to sports full-time as the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. While at KSNB-TV, Austin covered the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings College. After spending nearly six years away from home, Austin is excited to return to the Bluegrass State to cover the teams he grew up watching. In his spare time, Austin enjoys playing basketball, working out and cooking. If you have any story ideas or would like to say “Hello,” you can reach Austin by email at amiller@wtvq.com or direct message him on Twitter @AustinMillerTV.