ORLANDO, Fla. — A bowl game celebrates the pageantry of college football, and the Penn State Nittany Lions have been to plenty of them. Plenty of fans have, too.
Plenty of Penn State fans from northeast and central Pennsylvania made the trip to Florida to see the Citrus Bowl in person.
“It’s wonderful. The stadium’s packed, a lot of spirit, great game,” said Valerie Berzanski of Wilkes-Barre.
A bowl game like this is also a celebration for each teams seniors. Fans cheered when quarterback Trace McSorely took the field, and it was a deafening roar when the rest of the Nittany Lions followed.
“You gotta love bowl games. You’ve got both teams here, both sets of fans. It’s great,” said Tom Lavan of Mountain Top.
Penn State fans made themselves heard at this Citrus Bowl quickly, but they weren’t alone. Plenty of Kentucky fans filled the stadium, too.
“I’d say it’s about even, but we’re louder,” said Ruby Harkey of Avis.
But Penn State found some frustrations early. Kentucky jumped to an early lead, making the Nittany Lion crowd nervous. A missed field goal would haunt the team later.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t be this close,” said Diane Brown of Benton.
“Got to a slow start, picked it up at the half, a few blown calls, but hopefully they pick it up in the second half,” said Corey Abel of Clarks Summit.
Penn State fans roared to life in the second half.
The Nittany Lions kicked a field goal to come within three points after being down by 20 in the fourth quarter.
Penn State fans willed their team to win, but the roaring crowd wasn’t enough. In the end, it was Kentucky on the field celebrating, winning the game 27-24.
“The result, you know what, bittersweet. I’m here and I saw them, and we had a good sort-of comeback, and we didn’t quite make it, but I love them,” said Denise Zall of East Stroudsburg.
“That was my first game in a few years, but it was a good game. They put up a good fight,” said Stephanie Casale of Muncy.
After the loss, a hug from McSorely to head coach James Franklin. McSorely’s career ended on a loss after almost getting another comeback win.
“He was amazing as always, and we’re going to miss him,” said Monica Casale of Muncy.