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Saturday bowl roundup: Georgia Tech, LSU prevail

Associated Press
Georgia Tech running back Nate Cottrell, right, is tackled by Kentucky cornerback J.D. Harmon on a kick return during the second half of the TaxSlayer Bowl on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. Georgia Tech beat Kentucky 33-18.

Jacksonville, Fla. — Dedrick Mills ran for a career-high 169 yards and a touchdown, Justin Thomas scored in his final collegiate game and Georgia Tech beat Kentucky 33-18 in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets (9-4) also got significant contributions from defense and special teams en route to their fourth consecutive victory.

Playing without running back Marcus Marshall, who decided to transfer after the regular-season finale, Tech turned to Mills to handle the workload. And the freshman from nearby Waycross, Georgia, delivered. He carried a career-high 31 times as the Yellow Jackets won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in more than a decade.

It wasn’t totally a one-man show, though.

Senior P.J. Davis returned a fumble 38 yards for a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, a horrible start for a Kentucky team that was making its first bowl appearance in six years. And fellow linebacker Terrell Lewis blocked a punt late in the first half that set up a 52-yard field goal.

Thomas added a 21-yard touchdown run. And Harrison Butker made a career-best four field goals.

The Wildcats (7-6) looked like a team merely content with being in a bowl game. They couldn’t slow down coach Paul Johnson’s flexbone spread option and really struggled to get much going on the ground.

Kentucky’s backfield duo of Stanley “Boom” Williams and Benny Snell combined for just 69 yards on the ground.

Still, the Wildcats had a shot in the final minutes. Quarterback Stephen Johnson scrambled for a 21-yard touchdown with 3:57 remaining and then connected with C.J. Conrad for the 2-point conversion to make it a one-score game.

But Thomas found Ricky Jeune wide open on a third-and-4 play near midfield for a 42-yard gain. Mills scored three plays later to seal Tech’s victory.

LSU 29, Louisville 9

Orlando, Fla. — Sophomore running back Derrius Guice ran for 138 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown, and caught a scoring pass to help No. 19 LSU Tigers to a 29-9 victory over No. 15 Louisville in Saturday’s Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.

Guice, who stepped in for departed Leonard Fournette, consistently made explosive plays running the ball, as a receiver and a kickoff return man for the Tigers (8-4).

His performance was eclipsed only by the overpowering performance of the Tigers defense that completely shut down Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals. The Cardinals did not score a touchdown.

Jackson was sacked eight times, including a safety for an 8-yard loss late in the second quarter. Jackson completed just 10 of 27 passes for 153 yards while leading the rushing attack with 33 yards as the Cardinals (9-4) ended their season with three straight losses.