(WAVE) - All-American Benny Snell rushed for 144 yards and scored two touchdowns as #14 Kentucky held off a late rally from #12 Penn State to win the VRBO Citrus Bowl 27-24.
“Just proud of our team doing the things necessary to close it out and if you don’t have a physicality about you like that and you don’t have a guy like Benny it’s hard to do,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said. “Because the whole stadium knew he was going to run the ball and to grind out a first down or two to ice the game was critical.”
The Cats lead 27-7 late in the third quarter. Snell’s 12 yard touchdown run gave them that cushion and vaulted him past Sonny Collins on UK’s all-time rushing list. Snell finishes his three-year Cats career with 3,873 yards. Sonny Collins is now second with 3,835. He played from 1972-75.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, who finished 17-33 for 246 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, came off the Nittany Lions bench to lead a comeback. He did not start the third quarter, out with an apparent leg injury. However, when McSorley connected with Pat Freiermuth for an 18 yard touchdown with 9:00 left, the Nittany Lions were within 27-21. A Jake Pinegar 32 yard field goal made it 27-24 with 4:12 left. That’s when Snell put it away.
“Oh, it mean the world, there’s no feeling like it,” Snell said. “I came in this season, came with this program fighting, I end it fighting with my brothers.”
UK senior linebacker Josh Allen, the National Defensive Player of the Year and a 1st team All-American, sacked McSorley three times and blocked a first half field goal.
“That’s why you come back, when you’re a great player and you’re thinking about leaving, that’s why you come back for that feeling right there and I love this feeling,” Allen said.
The Cats finish the season 10-3, just the third 10 win season in UK football history. They went 11-1 in 1950 and 10-1 in 1977.
It was their first win in a New Year’s Day bowl game since that Bear Bryant bunch beat Oklahoma 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1951.