GAMEDAY College Football



Gator Bowl: Kentucky 23, North Carolina State 21

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - 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.

Christopher Dunn missed two field goals for the Wolfpack (8-4), who trailed 16-14 late when Bailey Hockman 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 offensive line coach John Schlarman.

Kentucky finished with 281 yards on the ground, helping offset one of the nation's worst passing attacks. Stoops fired offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw after the team's regular-season finale and later hired Los Angeles Rams assistant Liam Coen to fill those roles in 2021.

Kentucky's ground game and defense did most of the work against NC State.

A big issue for the Wolfpack was playing without four defensive starters. Safety Tanner Ingle (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.


BOX SCORE

Associated Press


January 2, 2021


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