Just like he had so many times in 2019, Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden served as the primary offensive weapon for a nail-biting go-ahead scoring drive in the final minute of a 37-30 win against Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl on Tuesday.
Trailing 30-24 midway through the fourth quarter, Bowden led a methodical 18-play, 85-yard drive that took all but 15 seconds off the clock and finished with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Josh Ali. The drive included fourth down conversions and plenty of hard running from Bowden, who displayed impressive composure with the game on the line.
It was Bowden's only passing touchdown of a performance that once again highlighted his ability as a dual-threat playmaker, as the former wide receiver rolled up 233 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 34 attempts.
Reports heading into the game pointed to heated tensions between the Kentucky and Virginia Tech players. They reportedly had been exchanging some smack talk during the joint team activities this week, and during warm-ups the ESPN cameras caught some taunting, pushing and shoving between the two teams.
Virginia Tech never trailed until that go-ahead score, and then the Hokies' efforts to pull off a Hail Mary and a multiple-lateral situation with time expired resulted in a scoop-and-score for the Wildcats to extend the lead. But while the Hokies never trailed, they continually allowed Bowden to keep Kentucky in the game with explosive plays.
For Mark Stoops, this win serves as a fitting end to a year that was expected to be a step back from last season's 10-win showing. After losing multiple NFL Draft picks and seeing major injuries at the quarterback position contribute to a 2-3 start, Stoops and the Kentucky offensive staff revamped the offense with Bowden, a wide receiver and kick returner, as the quarterback. What resulted was some of the most prolific rushing performances in school history as Kentucky rolled off three straight wins to close the regular season, gaining at least 400 rushing yards in each performance.