Rafael Little rushed for 54 yards on 17 carries, and added 66 yards on two key punt returns in the victory.
The Kentucky defense also played a key role in the victory, holding the talented Clemson running back tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to only 77 combined yards. Spiller needed 86 yards for Davis and Spiller to become the first duo to log 1,000 yards rushing in a single season, but he fell short of that mark. The Wildcat defense also caused four Clemson turnovers in the game.
Kentucky notched a touchdown in each quarter, leading 7-0 on a Micah Johnson 1-yard run, and never trailing thereafter. The touchdown drive featured three consecutive pass completions to Jacob Tamme for 21 yards, Little for 11, and Keenan Burton for 12.
After Clemson blocked a Tim Masthay punt in the 2nd quarter, the Tigers had a 3-play, 45-yard touchdown drive to bring the ACC foes within 1. The extra point would be missed, however.
The teams traded turnovers on the next two possessions for each team, and on the 4th turnover, Kentucky had possession on their own 15. Clemson appeared to stop the 'Cats, but on 4th down on UK's own 20-yard line, a fake punt resulted in a 10-yard pass completion from Masthay to Marcus McClinton for a 1st down at the 30. On the next play, Kentucky went deep for a 70-yard touchdown pass to Demareo Ford, and led 14-6.
Although the Tigers would threaten time and time again, with 20 of their first 26 plays coming in Wildcat territory, the Tigers were held to only 6 points, and the halftime score remained 14-6 in favor of the 'Cats.
On Kentucky's first possession in the 2nd half, the lead was extended to 21-6 in a 67-yard touchdown drive. The drive culminated in a Woodson-to-Dicky Lyons 24-yard touchdown pass.
The 4th quarter began with Kentucky holding a 21-6 lead. Kentucky's final score would occur after a nifty 47-yard punt return from Rafael Little gave the 'Cats excellent field position at the Clemson 28-yard line. Four plays later, Woodson connected on his 3rd touchdown toss of the game, a 13-yard strike to Jacob Tamme, and the 'Cats led 28-6 with 11:29 to play.
Clemson would not lay down, however, and fought back with a 17-yard Will Proctor to Tyler Grisham touchdown pass on 4th down. The two-point attempt failed, and the score stood at 28-12 with 7:25 to go.
Kentucky's next possession saw the 'Cats attempting to run the clock out, and they systematically moved the ball from their own 39 to the Clemson 13. The drive was highlighted with a "flea-flicker" that resulted in a 26-yard completion from Woodson to Lyons on 3rd down that gave the 'Cats a first down. An unsportsmanlike penalty cost the 'Cats on 3rd down and 2, though, and Clemson took the ball over on downs with 3:24 to play.
Proctor completed his 2nd 17-yard touchdown pass of the quarter with 44 seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late. The two-point conversion was successful, cutting the margin to the final score of 28-20, but after an unsuccessful onside kick was recovered by Jacob Tamme, the clock ran out, and the Music City Bowl championship was claimed by the Wildcats. Tamme, a former high school shortstop, recovered all three onside attempts attempted against Kentucky in 2006. Both Kentucky and Clemson finished the season with identical 8-5 records.
Stay tuned to Kentucky Sports Report for updates and exclusive game photos from the Music City Bowl victory.