Northwestern defeated Kentucky 24-23 in the first meeting since 1928.
“We're a young football team. We saw a lot of that on display today, a lot of that. A lot of young guys stepped up,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said after the victory.
“That's exciting for the future, to say the least. We had to have guys step up. I mean, it's unbelievable we're here.”
A late-game touchdown by Kentucky brought the score to a difference of one, but the Wildcats of Kentucky were unable to convert on a key two-point conversion to claim victory.
Kentucky was able to find the end zone on their first drive after a rush by running back Benny Snell. The Wildcats from Kentucky drove down the field in 5 plays, resulting in a touchdown just over two minutes into the game.
Northwestern responded by putting up 17 unanswered points in the remaining of the first and second quarters.
However, it was not as easy as it sounds for the purple Wildcats.
After a throwback pass play, Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson suffered a major leg injury, ultimately resulting in the Illinois-native to be carted off the field.
Another key player took an early exit out of Nissan Stadium, but not for injury.
Kentucky’s No. 26 Benny Snell was ejected from the Music City Bowl after making contact with an official.
A forced three and out by Kentucky to begin the second half resulted in a punt by Northwestern.
Kentucky drove down the field in six plays, covering over 74 yards resulting in a touchdown.
A 64-yard rush by Jeremy Larkin with 10 minutes remaining came up short of a touchdown after the purple Wildcats were unable to convert on fourth and goal.
On Kentucky’s next possession, Northwestern’s Kyle Queiro intercepted Stephen Johnson and returned it for a pick six, giving Northwestern a 24-14 lead.
When the game looked like it might have been over, Kentucky responded with a field goal and another touchdown by Stephen Johnson to make the score 24-23.
Kentucky’s attempt to win came down to a two-point conversion, in which the blue Wildcats came up short.
Kentucky converted one time on third down in 10 attempts, compared to Northwestern’s 6 in 17.
Both teams struggled passing through the air, ultimately resulting in the running game making all the difference.
Northwestern put up a whopping 333 yards on the rushing column. Meanwhile Kentucky rushed for only 65 yards.
Northwestern University is now 4-10 in bowl game attempts, while Kentucky has a losing record at 8-9.