Kentucky’s Bowden does it all
Lynn Bowden Jr. outplayed Virginia Tech all day with his feet.
Then he closed them out with his arm.
“Ya’ll said I couldn’t throw, so over the top it goes,” Bowden joked after the game.
Bowden ran for 233 yards on 34 carries, and then tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Josh Ali with 15 seconds left as Kentucky rallied behind its remarkable receiverturned-quarterback to beat Virginia Tech 37-30 on Tuesday in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Bowden ran for two touchdowns before leading an 18-play, 85-yard game-winning drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock. It ended with Ali getting open in the middle of the end zone.
Bowden, who took over as Kentucky’s quarterback after five games because of injuries, passed for 73 yards on 12 attempts. His rushing day was the biggest in a bowl game since Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel ran for 219 yards versus Oklahoma in 2013.
Bowden said he never would have believed his final play as a college player would be a touchdown pass to win a bowl game. But a pregame scuffle with Virginia Tech players — in which TV footage showed Bowden apparently throwing a punch — could have written a very different story for the dynamic quarterback.
For two programs that hadn’t met since 1987, this one got testy before kickoff. Tussles broke out between players, but officials didn’t levy penalties or warnings for the actions.
“It’s a lot of emotion,” Bowden said. “I could have hurt my team and not been out there (today) with them, so I apologized to my program, my teammates . ... We respect Virginia Tech, and if I could go back, I wouldn’t do it. But it’s in the past.”
Wildcats coach Mark Stoops said if Bowden had been the starting quarterback since the beginning of the season he would have been a Heisman Trophy candidate.
“This guy right here is one of the best players in the country,” Stoops said of Bowden, the Paul Hornung Award winner for the nation’s most versatile player and game MVP.
Hendon Hooker threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns for the Hokies (8-5).
Trick play, FG lift Mids: A Navy team with the nation’s top-ranked rushing attack set up the winning score by completing a halfbackoption pass with less than 30 seconds left in a 20-17 win over Kansas State at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.
The Midshipmen snapped the ball on fourth-and-3 from the Kansas State 46. Quarterback Malcolm Perry pitched to C.J. Williams, and he threw downfield to a wide-open Chance Warren for a 41-yard gain.
Perry, who rushed for 213 yards, spiked the ball with five seconds left to set up freshman Bijab Nichols’ 23-yard field goal. Wildcats coach Chris Klieman called three timeouts in an attempt to freeze Nichols, who had missed a 38-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter.
The victory enabled Navy (11-2) to tie a program record for wins and ensured the Midshipmen will finish a season in the AP Top 25 for just the third time in the last 56 years. Navy finished 18th in 2015 — when it also won 11 games — and was 24th in 2004.
Cowboys cruise: Xazavian Valladay ran for 204 yards and scored two touchdowns, quarterback Levi Williams accounted for four scores and Wyoming rolled over Georgia State 38-17 in the Arizona Bowl.
Wyoming (8-5) started slow before scoring two quick touchdowns late in the first quarter and early in the second. The Cowboys built a 14-point lead by halftime and racked up 524 total yards.
Kentucky's Lynn Bowden Jr. runs against Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl on Tuesday.