Kentucky's Benny Snell Jr. and Northwestern's Paddy Fisher were both ejected on questionable calls.

By Khadrice Rollins
December 29, 2017

There were two questionable ejections in the first half of Friday's Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl between Kentucky and Northwestern.

The first ejection came early in the second quarter with No. 21 Northwestern leading 10-7. Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. took the ball toward the right sideline, but was met by a group of Northwestern defenders who forced him out of bounds. The play wasn't immediately blown dead, and Snell was forced to the ground by the group. An official came to help Snell up off the ground, but Snell pushed the official's hands away and got up on his own.

Snell was give a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for making contact with an official and was ejected from the game. Snell led Kentucky with 1,318 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns this season.

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Later in the quarter during another Kentucky possession, Northwestern became the victim of a questionable ejection call. With less than 30 seconds left in the half, Kentucky running back Siheim King leaped over a defender before getting tackled by Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher. Fisher led with his helmet on the tackle, but made contact with King's chest, not his head or neck. Fisher was called for a 15-yard targeting penalty, but a personal foul on Kentucky negated the play.

However, Fisher's targeting penalty was upheld after review and he was ejected despite the play not counting. He led Northwestern with 108 tackles this season.

In addition to each team losing a key player due to an ejection, Northwestern also lost quarterback Clayton Thorson for the remainder of the game due to a knee injury. After making the catch on a trick play, Thorson's right leg buckled as he was tackled and he was carted off the field. He returned to the sideline on crutches in the second half.

Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson also missed time during the first half of the game due to injury, but returned to the game after halftime.

Northwestern led 17-14 going into the fourth quarter and won the game 24-23 after stopping Kentucky on a two-point conversion with less than a minute remaining.

After the game, the official who ejected Snell explained the decision to a pool reporter saying, "I was on top of the play. And the players got up and grabbed my arms and pushed them away and contacted me. That's a foul." The official added that Snell did not say anything else when he got up, but the official ruled it was intentional contact that warranted a foul.

Northwestern ended its season at 10-3 thanks to the win and Kentucky finished up at 7-6.

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