Saturday, 20 January, 2018

Fourth-down decision almost dooms Northwestern in Music City Bowl

Clayton Thorson Injures Knee on Trick Play vs. Kentucky in Music City Bowl Fourth-down decision almost dooms Northwestern in Music City Bowl
Grady Vargas | 01 January, 2018, 04:32

Replay seemed to show that Northwestern actually picked up the first down, despite the call otherwise. He won seven of UK's last 11 games last season, highlighted by a victory at Louisville. After handing off to Larkin, Thorson ran down the left sideline and was wide open for the catch before being tackled by Kentucky linebacker Jordan Jones.

The first quarter ended with Derrick Baity picking up a personal foul while making a late tackle.

Best player: RB Justin Jackson. Johnson led five game-winning drives during his short time at United Kingdom, and was a two-point conversion away from his sixth. Derrick Baity made a great play on a pass downfield and Josh Pascal sacked Clayton Thorson during Northwestern's second series. As the best player on the field for the SEC's Wildcats, it was a huge blow and one Kentucky struggled to recover from. After fighting for yardage and being tackled by several Northwestern defenders, Benny Snell, Jr. came up and used an officials hands to help him up and questioned him in the process. The referee then threw the flag immediately. He finished his career 10th among the NCAA's leading rushers with 5,440 yards.

On UK's next possession, the offense was moving the ball. It would have set up a field goal attempt but the United Kingdom sideline was flagged for complaining to the officials pushing them too far away for an attempt. Johnson left the game, assisted by a Kentucky trainer, holding his right throwing arm.

Kentucky: Replacing Johnson at quarterback will be Stoops' challenge.

Kentucky roared back on the first drive of the second half.

The fourth-down decision from Fitzgerald was the second questionable move of the second half from Northwestern. On 4th and 2, Alviti's pass was incomplete.

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Johnson, the second-year player who made stops at Grambling and College of the Desert before enrolling at United Kingdom in 2016, took over last year after an injury to Drew Barker.

Stephen Johnson returned to the field. Three plays later, Johnson scored from three yards out on an option keeper. That 26-yard pick-6 gave NU a 24-14 lead. UK's deficit grew once more to 10. The Northwestern drive stalled in red zone and Northwestern settled for a Charlie Kuhbander field goal.

Before that misstep, Johnson made all the right moves, guiding United Kingdom 74 yards down the field and running it in 3 yards for the touchdown to pull the Cats within three points, 17-14. A Northwestern penalty gave Kentucky first-and-goal. 4th quarter slowed a bit. Justin Jackson (157) and Jeremy Larkin (112) both eclipsed the 100-yard mark.

Nursing a 24-17 lead, the Wildcats faced a fourth-and-1 from their own 39. On a Kentucky drive that looked like it could end in a score, Queiro had a pick six that put NU up 24-14, but United Kingdom was able to make a 48-yard field goal to get Kentucky within 7.

Kentucky received the opening kickoff of the 2017 Music City Bowl and drove right the field in 5 plays to put a touchdown on the board in less than 3 minutes.

NU had it 3rd and 4 where United Kingdom needed to make a stop and they did forcing a 4th and 1. The outcome wasn't determined until 37 seconds remaining in the game, as Kentucky failed to convert a 2-point conversion after pulling to within one point on a Stephen Johnson 9-yard touchdown run. Austin MacGinnis added the extra point to bring the Cats within a field goal. Richardson caught five passes for 89 yards. For us, we have 10 wins on the line. Kentucky's season ends at 7-6.

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