The Kentucky Wildcats returned to the field for their VRBO Citrus Bowl matchup with the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Cats were looking for their second 10-win season of the Mark Stoops era.
The game couldn’t have started any better for the Cats as they forced the Hawkeyes to punt and then the offense drove 80-yards in 13 plays as Will Levis found Chris Rodriguez for the 5-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
The Kentucky defense pitched a shutout in the first quarter but after a field goal from the Hawkeyes early in the 2nd, the Cats answered with a 21-yard field goal of their own to make it 10-7.
Two plays later, the offense was back on the field after D’Eryk Jackson came up with an interception. Unfortunately, the offense had to settle for another field goal making it 13-3.
The defense then did their job in the final seconds of the half as Quandre Mosely intercepted the Hail Mary attempt by Iowa to end the half and take a 13-3 lead into the break.
The Cats got the ball to start the second half and were moving the ball before a sack stalled the drive and forced a punt.
Iowa was able to get deep into Kentucky territory, but the defense stepped up and stopped the Hawkeyes on a 4th down to get a turnover on downs.
Unfortunately, the Cats were without a lot of key players including players on the offensive line. The lack of protection was a big issue throughout this one. The Cats were forced to punt after a three-and-out.
Iowa then took advantage of the good field position as they found the end zone in 6 plays to make this a 13-10 ballgame.
Kentucky was really thin on both sides of the ball, and it started to show in the 4th quarter, as the Hawkeyes drove down the field again and scored a touchdown to take a 17-13 lead.
Kentucky was able to get across midfield, but on a crucial 4th down, Chris Rodriguez was not in the game and the run play was stopped short for a turnover on downs.
The Cats got the ball back with 3:31 left in the game with a chance to go win the game.
Will Levis connected multiple times with Wan’Dale Robinson to set the Cats up with a 1st-and-goal. Chris Rodriguez then punched it in for the touchdown to take a 20-17 lead with 1:48 remaining.
Iowa was nearing field goal range when Deandre Square came up with a huge interception to seal the 20-17 win for Kentucky and to get the second 10-win season of the Mark Stoops era.
The Cats were without several key players in this one due to both injuries and Covid-19 issues.
With players out, the Cats needed a big game from Chris Rodriguez and Wan’Dale Robinson and both delivered in a big way making them today’s Co-MVPs.
Rodriguez was a beast on the ground throughout this one as he finished with 20 carries for 107-yards and a touchdown. He also hauled in a 5-yard receiving touchdown.
Robinson was phenomenal down the stretch as he finished with 10 catches for 170-yards including the 52-yard completion to set up the game winning touchdown.
Both of those players deserve a ton of credit for the way they performed today. They left it all on the field and stepped up when they needed it most.
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