Two of the last players to leave were tight end Jacob Tamme and Keenan Burton. Tamme had to stop to hug his wife, mother and father before shaking hands with fans hanging out of the front-row seats. Burton was right in front of him slapping any hand that had on blue and white.
"The fans have always embraced us and helped us get to where we are today," Tamme, who had a 14-yard touchdown catch, said. "I'm not going to suit up with this senior class again, but I'm sure proud to go out this way with them."
Burton was not even sure he was going to play two days ago. He not only played the entire game on his injured knee, but he seven catches for 56 yards.
"No way was I going to miss this," said Burton. "This was my last game with these guys and I wanted to make sure I did all I could to help us win."
Made the game entertaining
It was a bizarre, entertaining game that featured big turnovers, nifty offensive moves, mental mistakes and questionable officiating. Each time the Wildcats were on the verge of putting the game out of reach against a Florida State team decimated by suspensions and injuries, some miscue kept the Seminoles close.
It was until a desperation Hail Mary pass on the game's final play was knocked down that UK knew it could start its own New Year's Eve celebration.
"We found a way to make the game entertaining," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said.
Kentucky did its best to make sure Florida State stayed in the game the first half when the Wildcats could easily have had at least a 14-point lead instead of a 14-14 deadlock. Just consider:
* Rafael Little, who ran for 152 yards and had eight catches for 50 yards, fumbled at the Florida State 10-yard line after a 14-yard pass completion. UK was leading 7-0 at the time. However, Little's fumble was returned 51 yards to set up the Seminoles' first score.
"We are ready to go up 14-0 and then have a 14-point swing," Brooks said.
* Little's 47-yard run to the Florida State 20 was negated by a bizarre block by receiver Steve Johnson over 20 yards behind the play.
"I don't know yet what I did. The play was gone," Johnson, who more than compensated for the miscue with seven catches for a game-high 124 yards and two touchdowns, said.
* After a great defensive stand on fourth down and inches inside the 1-yard line to halt a Florida State scoring drive, a miscommunication between Woodson, who was 32-for-50 passing for 358 yards, and receiver Keenan Burton led to a 24-yard interception return by the Seminoles' Tony Carter to tie the game.
"We make a great fourth down stop and then have one of Andre's worst passes of his career," Brooks said.
* Two passes to Johnson gained 50 yards to get the Cats to the 11-yard line before Woodson was sacked and Lones Seiber hit a 37-yard field goal. The Seminoles, though, gave UK new life with a personal foul penalty that UK wasted when Woodson was called for intentional grounding on third down and Seiber missed a 40-yard field goal on fourth down.
Seiber also missed a field goal in the second half and the drama really built for UK fans when linebacker Micah Johnson intercepted a pass with less than a minute to play and then fumbled the ball back to Florida State with 29 seconds to play -- just like linebacker Marty Moore did in 1993 when it led to Clemson beating UK 14-13 in the Peach Bowl.
"I do know who Marty Moore is and we were all screaming for him (Johnson) to go down," said Brooks.
Fitting that nothing came easy
Still, maybe it was fitting that nothing came easy for this UK team. Remember it was midway of the 2006 season when Brooks job was in jeopardy after a 49-0 loss at LSU when the Wildcats regrouped and earned a bowl bid.
Kentucky gained 501 yards, but gave up 480. The Cats lost three of five fumbles, had the interception returned for a score and were penalized seven times for 45 yards. But they still won.
And no matter who Florida State did or did not have playing, there are no bad bowl wins at UK.
"I am thrilled we got a win when we did not play our best," Brooks said. "That we were able to overcome our mistakes and get a wins says volumes about the character of this team."
It does and no one has had a louder voice in that than Tamme, who had three catches for 35 yards and recovered a fourth-quarter fumble when UK was clinging to its lead.
"One of the big things that has changed about Kentucky football is that we believe we can win," Tamme said. "We came off probation a few years ago and it was tough to believe you could win against the elite teams. But now we expect to win games like this. Kentucky football is different now. We not only believe we can win, but we do win and a game like this only makes it easier to do it again."