#21 Northwestern sneaks by Kentucky 24-23


#21 Northwestern sneaks by Kentucky 24-23

The Music City Bowl was marred by controversy and horrendous officiating.

United Kingdom kept Northwestern in check until their 3rd possession of the game. Johnson ran for his second touchdown of the second half with 37 seconds left.

Odds: Northwestern opened as 6.5-point favorites.

Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk, playing in what's expected to be his last game at the collegiate level, caught a career-high 13 passes for 182 yards and a Belk Bowl-record three touchdown catches.

Kentucky is 89th nationally in total defense (425.7 yards), which also is cause for concern because Northwestern features a balanced attack. If Richardson hauls in the pass from Johnson, we are having a completely different conversation but that wasn't the case. NU got stuffed, allowing United Kingdom to take over and march to a TD with 37 seconds left. NU would get a 64 yard run from Larkin down to the United Kingdom 11. Also, there was no guarantee that Northwestern wouldn't have marched down the field for a game-winning field goal attempt. Snell led Kentucky with 1,318 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns this season.

The first ejection came early in the second quarter with No. 21 Northwestern leading 10-7. A halfback from Larkin to Thorson gained 24 yards, however, Thorson injured his right knee on the play and did not return.

Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. was ejected from the Music City Bowl after making contact with a referee after a 7-yard loss in the second quarter. An official came to help Snell up off the ground, but Snell pushed the official's hands away and got up on his own.

He finished 2017 with 10 touchdown passes on 2,305 yards and five rushing scores.

'Juice' Johnson got into the mix on UK's next possession. The Kentucky bench got an unsportsmanlike penalty, pushing its offense out of field-goal range.

Despite the offensive numbers, it was a pair of defensive plays on the part of the Aggies that shifted the momentum and almost led to a disastrous Demon Deacons loss.

Northwestern got the ball to start the second half of the Music City Bowl. He was replaced by senior Matt Alviti. Stephen Johnson took the quarterback keeper around the right side and squeezed his body inside the pylon for the touchdown. Unable to get the touchdown, United Kingdom settled for a 48 yard field goal from Austin MacGinnis.

The fourth quarter of the Music City Bowl began with dueling punts.

Northwestern would drive again.

No other member of the football team better represents the ideology of giving 100 percent than Stephen Johnson. However, an ill-timed throw by Johnson resulted in a pick-six for Northwestern. United Kingdom cutting the deficit to 17-14.

Stephen Johnson led United Kingdom on a drive that ended when he carried it 9 yards into the end zone for the touchdown. And after its defense stopped Northwestern on another fourth down, the Wildcats would reach the end zone. He was carted off the field and never returned. Mark Stoops made a decision to roll the dice and go for the two-point conversion to go up by one.



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