The Cats Send Lynn Bowden Out A Winner
Over the years the Kentucky Wildcats have played in their share of exciting bowls, many times on the losing end. However on Tuesday afternoon the Cats came out of the smiling side of the scoreboard. Behind another incredible performance from Lynn Bowden Kentucky wins a Belk Bowl thriller 37-30.
An Unbelievable Final Game
For whatever reason in the days leading up to the game Virginia Tech made it a mission to get in Bowden’s head. Usually teams spend a lot of time together at bowl festivities. However this was not the case for this game. When they were in the same place it didn’t go well.
First there was an altercation between the two teams at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Then some trash talking by the Hokies led Bowden to tweet this seemingly at Virginia Tech.
You gone see
— Lynn Bowden Jr (@LynnBowden_1) December 29, 2019
However things finally broke loose before the game with an on field scuffle. Reports of punches thrown, including one from Bowden before things got under control. Thankfully it happened so early no referees were on the field therefore no one could be penalized or worse, ejected.
For a while the Hokies’ plans seemed to work as the Cats were out of sync early in the game. Too many penalties and missed tackles let Virginia Tech build a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter. However Kentucky came right back to cut it to 17-14 at the half.
The Defense Stepped Up
As mentioned earlier, Kentucky’s defense struggled early in the game. In fact the secondary, which had only give up seven touchdowns all year, gave up two in the first half to Hendon Hooker. Following a disputed UK fumble a 27 yard field goal from Brian Johnson put the Hokies up 30-24 early in the fourth quarter. From there they wouldn’t score another point. On the ensuing drive Bowden was picked off by Brion Murray. However the defense forced a three and out setting the stage for the final drama.
One Last Time
Taking over at their own 15 yard line Bowden led the Cats on an 18 play drive taking up over eight minutes. They completed two fourth downs to keep the drive alive. One on a pass to Josh Ali and the second on a two yard run by Bowden. That set the stage for the winning play. Originally the pass was to go to Ahmad Wagner the Cats best threat near the goal line. However Bowden called an audible and found Ali for the winning score.
What if I told you @LynnBowden_1 set the all-time bowl game QB rushing record (233 yards), but the game-winning play was a 13-yard TD pass to @_JoshAli6 ? #BringIt x @BelkBowl 🏆 | #BBN pic.twitter.com/TPme7FJmnb
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 31, 2019
Virginia Tech got one more chance but on the last play of the game Jordan Wright recovered a fumbled lateral and ran 28 yards for the score and Kentucky wins a Belk Bowl thriller.
For the game, Bowden rushed for 233 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns. In addition he threw the one score to Ali. He broke Johnny Manziel’s record of 229 rushing yards by a quarterback in a bowl set against Oklahoma in the 2013 Cotton Bowl. Furthermore he finished the season with 1,468 yards rushing only five off the single season SEC record set by Cam Newton in 2010. Without question it’s been a remarkable year for the Paul Hornung Award winner.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 1, 2020
Looking Ahead To 2020
With the victory Kentucky finishes at 8-5 and wins back to back bowl games for the first time in a decade. While they lose Bowden many of the main components on the offense return next season including starting quarterback Terry Wilson. He of course is recovering from a torn patellar tendon suffered against Eastern Michigan. With a strong nucleus on defense returning as well look for the Cats to be picked third or fourth at worst in the SEC East.
On the other side of the ball Justin Fuente’s Hokies also finish 8-5. However they return their entire offense unit including Hooker and running back Deshawn McClease. While they have to replace five starters on defense look for them to challenge for the ACC Coastal crown once again with Virginia.
Of course one big component is going to be gone next season and that’s long time defensive coordinator Bud Foster. After 33 years the Kentucky native coached his last game in the Belk Bowl. Ironically his first game in Blacksburg came in 1987 also against Kentucky which is the last time these two schools faced off.
Again Kentucky wins a Belk Bowl thriller 37-30 over Virginia Tech. Thanks for checking out our recap and all the great content here at Last Word On College Football. Don’t forget we have previews and recaps of every bowl game leading up to the national championship between Clemson and LSU on January 13th.