The 5 Most Memorable Moments From This Year’s Citrus Bowl
This year’s Citrus Bowl was a game for the ages. We saw Penn State blue-chip quarterback Trace McSorley playing on a broken foot, as he nearly led his team back from a 20-point second-half deficit against Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcats were able to run the clock out after a late Nittany Lions field goal, notching their 10th win of the season by the score of 27-24.
The matchup of the two top-15 ranked squads had a little bit of everything for the neutral viewer, including head-scratching coaching decisions, a player getting ejected, and all-time school records being broken.
In honor of one of the best bowl games this year, we’ve put together a list of the five most memorable moments from the 2019 Citrus Bowl. Let’s get into it!
Penn State’s Failed Fake Punt
Penn State head coach James Franklin made a few extremely questionable decisions in the game, and his first one came after just 40 seconds had passed on the game clock. On fourth and 2, the Nittany Lions ran an uninspired fake punt run that was immediately sniffed out by Kentucky for a loss of a yard and a turnover. Kentucky went on to kick a field goal with the great field position after the stop.
Lynn Bowden’s Punt Return Touchdown
After getting out to an early 3-0 lead, Kentucky was able to continue to put pressure on Penn State, forcing them to punt from their own end zone. Receiver Lynn Bowden caught the punt at around his own 40-yard line and made a fantastic weaving run through the field, complete with multiple lethal stutter-steps. Bowden was able to break his run to the outside, making things look easy as he sprinted into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 10-point lead late in the first quarter.
Benny Snell Jr. Sets the University of Kentucky Rushing Record
Coming into the tilt against Penn State, Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. needed just 108 rushing yards in his final game with the team to break the all-time Wildcats rushing record. Late in the third quarter, the 20-year-old pounded the ball through the middle and scored a 12-yard touchdown, which ended up being the winning score of the game. The 12 yards gained on the touchdown was enough for him to pass Sonny Collins as the team’s all-time leading rusher. Snell finished the game with 144 yards and two touchdowns in his final game as a Wildcat.
Cam Brown’s Ejection
After scoring on a punt return, Lynn Bowden was involved in another key play, however, this one didn’t turn out quite as well for him. Early in the second half, Bowden caught a pass from quarterback Terry Wilson and was on the receiving end of a hard helmet-to-helmet hit from Penn State linebacker Cam Brown. The officials reviewed the play and ruled that Brown had specifically targeted Bowden’s head on the hit, and Brown was ejected from the game.
James Franklin’s Field Goal Gaffe
By far the most memorable moment from this game was a boneheaded coaching decision by James Franklin. This decision made his fake punt play call seem brilliant by comparison. With 4:12 left in the game, Penn State trailed by six points. Facing a fourth and 7 on Kentucky’s 14, Franklin sent on his kicking unit, even though a field goal likely wouldn’t help his team all that much, seeing that they’d still be trailing late in the game.
Instead of going for the win, Franklin played it conservative and trusted that his defense would get a stop. In fairness to him, they did, but not until after Kentucky had run the clock down to just one second left. Penn State unsurprisingly lost, and Franklin was lambasted for days after on social media.