Fourth-down decision almost dooms Northwestern in Music City Bowl

Fourth-down decision almost dooms Northwestern in Music City Bowl

Fourth-down decision almost dooms Northwestern in Music City Bowl

Down 24-23, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, showing some aggressiveness of his own, went for the winning two-point conversion instead of tying things up with an extra point. Updates with new lead.

Senior safety Kyle Queiro also made a significant impact, intercepting a Stephen Johnson pass midway through the fourth quarter, and tiptoeing his way 26 yards along the sideline to give the Cats a 24-14 lead.

DEFENSE: A. The NU defense got a big break when star United Kingdom running back Benny Snell, Jr., got booted for making contact with an official in the second quarter. And when the dust settled, Northwestern locked up its tenth win of the season, beating Kentucky 24-23. That defensive score bailed out the offense and an iffy decision to go for it on fourth down.

His defense had their coach's back.

The Kentucky Wildcats and Northwestern Wildcats took every conceivable risk in seeking to win the 20th annual Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. "Wow. What a great job by our young men". Northwestern would go on to score 17 unanswered points to end the first half as record-setting running back Justin Jackson ran for two touchdowns - a five-yarder to cap an 80-yard drive, and a two-yard leaping effort to capitalize on a short field set up by Montre Hartage's interception.

With the win, not only did Pat Fitzgerald's team earn its second 10-win season in three years but it also won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in program history.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound quarterback left late in the second quarter with pain in his right acromioclavicular joint suffered on a big hit after a throw near Kentucky's sideline. United Kingdom running back Benny Snell Jr., the SEC's leader this season in rushing touchdowns with 18, was ejected in the first quarter for "contact with an official".

After Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald used two timeouts, Johnson had time to pick out Richardson about three yards deep in the end zone.

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"We came here to win", Barnhart said. "We got it did you see the replay?" As Johnson has done many times this season, he again provided some late game heroics as he drove the offense down the field and rushed for a nine-yard touchdown with 37 seconds remaining.

Johnson built a reputation for toughness all season, then backed it up one final time in a Wildcats uniform by almost willing Kentucky back from two 10-point deficits.

Johnson completed a pass for 16 yards to Justin Rigg, then ran it himself for six yards before taking a sack. Assuming an MRI confirms that, Northwestern can breathe a little easier.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound IL native broke 100 rushing yards for the third straight game and the seventh time this season. But Jeremy Larkin is a redshirt freshman who ran for 112 yards, and he will be back in 2018. Fitzgerald said he told Jackson he'd better get a lot of yards.

"I don't even know what to say", Alviti said.

Kentucky: Snell, who came in leading the SEC in rushing TDs, capped the opening drive of the game with a 3-yard TD that was his 19th this season and 32nd of his career. Though not completely surprising, hearing the school's all-time winningest QB would be back in Evanston next season was good news for Northwestern.

Both teams lost key players in a wild second quarter. After the game, Referee Chris Coyte explained his reasoning for ejecting Snell.

Snell was toppled for a 7-yard loss on a first-down play at the Northwestern 37. Richardson got his hands on the ball for a split-second, but McShepard swiped up and knocked the ball away.

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