Special teams, Snell, lead Kentucky in upset win
ORLANDO, Fla. — Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State’s 27-24 loss to Kentucky on Tuesday in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium:
Play of the game: Lynn Bowden Jr.’s 58-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Wildcats a 10-0 lead with 45 seconds left in the first quarter, creating an uphill climb for Penn State.
Offensive player of the game: Snell rushed for 144 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. He was not thrown for a loss.
Defensive player of the game: Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen made four tackles, including three sacks. He also was credited with a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
Most telling statistic: Kentucky racked up six sacks.
Most deceiving statistic: Penn State outgained the Wildcats 410-297.
Hidden statistic: The Wildcats ran out the clock by gaining 25 yards and two first downs on eight carries — all by Snell — in the last two minutes.
Best run: Snell opened the second half with a 32-yard burst in which he hurdled Lion safety Nick Scott.
Best pass: Trace McSorley hit tight end Nick Bowers over the middle for 25 yards to the Kentucky 30 in the fourth quarter.
Worst pass: McSorley missed an open Pat Freiermuth in the red zone for what could have been a second-quarter touchdown. He also underthrew an open Juwan Johnson in the third quarter and was intercepted.
Best catch: Freiermuth made a leaping 20-yard reception at the sideline in the fourth quarter.
Catch it, will ya: DeAndre Thompkins didn’t field a punt in the first quarter, and it cost the Lions 15 yards of field position. Thompkins may have lost the ball in the sun because Kentucky did the same thing moments later. Thompkins also dropped two other passes, including a well-thrown bomb from Sean Clifford in the second quarter. Miles Sanders dropped an early flat pass.
Hold it, won’t ya: Johnathan Thomas dropped a fake-punt attempt on the Lions’ first possession.
Best block: Kentucky’s Ahmad Wagner threw the final block on Bowden punt return.
Best tackle: PSU backup linebacker Ellis Brooks drilled Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson on third-and-short, forcing a fourth-quarter punt with the Lions down 27-14.
Best hit: Micah Parsons decked Bowden Jr. on a second-quarter kick return.
Best kick: Blake Gillikin boomed his first punt 71 yards to the Kentucky 3.
Worst kick: Rafael Checa booted the opening kickoff of the second half out of bounds, giving Kentucky possession at the 35.
Worst penalty: Parsons’ late hit of Bowden Jr. out of bounds cost the Lions 15 yards, put Kentucky at the PSU 11 and set up the TD that extended the Kentucky lead to 20-7 in the third quarter.
Best call: Liked the flanker screen that Penn State used to spring Hamler for 45 yards in the second quarter, setting up the Lions’ first TD and cutting the Kentucky lead to 10-7.
Worst call: PSU faked a punt on its first possession, and Thomas, after fumbling, was snowed under, giving Kentucky possession at the Lions’ 33.
Best effort: Parsons, despite not starting, led all tacklers with 10.5 tackles plus a forced fumble.
Unsung hero: Bowden Jr. caught five passes for 84 yards and, including his returns, amassed 173 yards of total offense.