The Morning Call (Sunday)

Kentucky’s strong ground game defines chippy Gator Bowl win

Unsportsma­nlike conduct penalties an issue for Wildcats, NC State; UK rushes for 281 yards


A.J. Rose ran for a career-high 148 yards, Chris Rodriguez added 84 yards and two scores and Kentucky held off No. 24 North Carolina State 23-21 in a chippy TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Saturday.

Christophe­r Dunn missed two field goals for the Wolf pack (8-4), who trailed 16-14 late when Bailey Hock man threw his third intercepti­on of the game. Rodriguez scored on the ensuing play, going nearly untouched for 26 yards.

NC State got a final chance after Jordan Houston scored with 1:10 remaining. But Allen Dailey recovered Dunn’s onside kick, and the Wildcats (5-6) ran out the clock. Coach Mark Stoops got a Gatorade bath following the team’s third straight bowl victory, which ended a tumultuous season that included the loss of offensivel­ine coach John Schlarman.

Kentucky finished with 281 yards on the ground, helping offset one of the nation’s worst passing attacks. St oops fired offensive coordinato­r Eddie Gran and quarterbac­ks coach Dar in H in shaw after the team’ s regular- season finale and later hired Los Angeles Rams assistant Liam Co en to fill those roles in 2021.

Kentucky’ s ground game and defense did most of the work against NCState.

A big issue for the Wolfpack was playing without four defensive starters. Safety Tanner Ing le( suspended ), defensive tackle Alim McNeil (opt out) and injured linebacker­s Payton Wilson and Drake Thomas missed the game.

Penalties were a problem for both teams. There were 11 unsportsma­nlike conduct penalties and several more instances where a flag could have been thrown.

Fiesta Bowl

Breece Hall ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns, Brock Purdy accounted for two scores and No. 12 Iowa State grinded out a 34-17 victory over No. Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.

The Cyclones (9-3, CFP 10) used their ball-control offense to dominate the time of possession and keep Oregon’s offense off the field for long stretches to win their first New Year’s Six bowl.

Hall, an AP All-American, had 34 carries and his ninth 100-yard game this season. Purdy, who went to high school in nearby Gilbert, threw for 156 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-29 passing, adding a touchdown on the ground.

Iowa State had a time of possession advantage of more than 25 minutes.

Oregon(4-3, CFP25) alternated between Tyler Shough and Anthony Brownat quarterbac­k, but couldn’t sustain anything on offense and was plagued by numerous mistakes.

The Ducks lost two fumbles, an intercepti­on and a pooch kick. They also turned it over when a punt hit a blocker’s helmet and had a touchdown wiped out by a penalty.

The Cyclones had been building toward this moment.

Iowa State won three games its first season under Matt Campbell before playing in three straight bowl games. The Cyclones earned their first New Year’s Six bowl with the best regular season in school history.

Outback Bowl

Matt Corral threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns, leading Mississipp­i to a 26-20 upset of seventh-ranked Indiana in the Outback Bowl on Saturday.

Corral’s 3-yard pass to Dontario Drummond put the Rebels (5-5) ahead for good with 4:12 remaining. The Ole Miss defense came through with one more stop to ensure the school’s first non-losing record since going 6-6 in 2017.

Coach Lane Kiffin was rewarded before the game with a newcontrac­t, even though he’s just competing his first season with the Rebels.

Drummond finished with six catches for 110 yards. Corral completed 30 of 44 passes without an intercepti­on, including a 5-yard TD throw to Casey Kelly that put Ole Miss up 13-3 midway through the second quarter.

Jack Tuttle was 26 of 45 for 201 yards in his second start in place Michael Penix Jr. for Indiana, which lost its star quarterbac­k to a season-ending knee injury in late November.

 ?? SAMGREENWO­OD/GETTY ?? Kentucky’s Jamin Davis celebrates a defensive stop against North Carolina State during the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Saturday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonvil­le, Fla.
SAMGREENWO­OD/GETTY Kentucky’s Jamin Davis celebrates a defensive stop against North Carolina State during the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Saturday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonvil­le, Fla.

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