Lynn Bowden’s Kentucky Wildcats career ended on a whale of a note.
Bowden’s all-timer of a day at the Belk Bowl was capped off with a game-winning touchdown pass to Josh Ali in the final seconds. The TD pushed Kentucky over the Virginia Tech Hokies, and then a scoop and score in the final moments led to a 37-30 win for the Cats.
Bowden had 73 yards passing on a 6-for-12 mark. But Bowden absolutely excelled on the ground again. He ran for 233 yards on 34 attempts, good for a nice 6.9 yards per carry, which was tied with Asim Rose for the team lead. His performance was a record-setter in the Belk Bowl’s history, so it was quite the way for the bowl and for Bowden to go out.
Kentucky’s game-winning drive was virtually all Bowden. He ran the ball four straight times to start the drive off. After putting it into Kavosiey Smoke’s hands, Bowden again took two rushes. But after an incomplete pass, they were faced with a 4th and 7. Bowden stepped up and threw to Ali for a nine-yard gain that gave them the first down.
Chris Rodriguez then took the ball and rushed for four yards, and again, Bowden put the ball in his hands and ran. That set up 3rd and 2, but Smoke was only able to get a yard. Out of a timeout, UK was facing another fourth down. But thanks to Bowden, who plowed ahead for the necessary yard to gain, they converted it and wen ton their way. Bowden ran nine yards two plays later and VaTech called a timeout. Out of that break, Bowden threw a deft pass to Ali for the game-winning score, which sent Big Blue Nation into jubilation.
To their credit, Virginia Tech certainly hung in there. Hendon Hooker threw two touchdown passes in the first half to Damon Hazelton and Dalton Keene. Hooker threw no interceptions and finished with 110 passing yards on a 12-for-22 day. Deshawn McClease rushed for 126 yards on 11 carries, which gave way to an 11.5 yards per carry mark that led both sides.
All of the superlatives in the world apply to Lynn Bowden, who made the most of his final game with the Wildcats. We might not see a player like him for a while. So hopefully, people took stock of that on this New Year’s Eve afternoon.