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Kentucky holds off NC State in Gator Bowl

The Wolfpack nearly nicked them, but the Wildcats hung on and won.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - North Carolina State v Kentucky Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

NC State pulled to within two points at the 1:10 mark of the fourth quarter. Ultimately though, the Wolfpack did not cause mass destruction to the Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats defeated the Wolfpack 23-21 on Saturday afternoon to pick up a Gator Bowl victory.

Zonovan Knight rolled into the end zone with 4:46 to play to tighten the game up, 16-14 in favor of the Wildcats. But then, Chris Rodriguez Jr. would score his second touchdown of the day to propel the Cats ahead by nine with 2:55 to play. Though Jordan Houston would tighten it up again with 1:10 remaining, the Wildcats were able to run out the clock and elude a heartbreaking ending to a down season in Lexington.

State was able to stay in this game despite losing the TOP battle and being outgained on the ground. Their passing attack kept them alive as they unsurprisingly outgained UK 268-99 in the passing yard department. They were also able to stay in the game despite three turnovers from Bailey Hockman. Hockman threw three interceptions on the afternoon, which would go on to lead to 10 points late in the game for the Wildcats.

Their rushing attack was very bottled up, so more pressure was supplanted on Hockman. While the differential is there, and while the Wolfpack were able to come within two points, had they not committed those turnovers a different result may have happened.

Asim Rose and Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed for over 200 rushing yards on 19 combined attempts. Rose ran for 148 yards and averaged 12.3 yards per carry. Rodriguez ran for a paltry 84 yards, but was able to gain 4.9 yards per carry on his 17 attempts.