Kentucky defensive back Brandin Echols did not merely fall down when he was pushed by NC State receiver Devin Carter after a play during the third quarter of Saturday's 2021 Gator Bowl. Echols flailed dramatically to the turf and drew a critical 15-yard penalty on Carter that appeared to be at least partially the product of Echols' acting job.
Even after the flag was thrown, Echols continued to sell the play by laying face down on the field as teammate Qua Mahone rushed over to mockingly administer CPR. The embellishment was so pronounced that play-by-play announcer Anish Shroff suggested that Echols "has watched some soccer during quarantine."
But the penalty against NC State was no laughing matter. Trailing 13-0 at the time, the Wolfpack were in the midst of a long drive to open the second half and desperately needed points. The penalty set NC State back 15 yards to their own 38-yard line and set up a third-and-23 attempt. NC State got some of the yards back on the following play, but kicker Chris Dunn missed a subsequent 43-yard field goal.
Though Echols' acting job was certainly the most viral moment of his Gator Bowl performance, it may not be the moment he remembers from the game. The senior from Southaven, Mississippi, also grabbed the first interception of his two-year Kentucky career in the first quarter.