Ken­tucky’s Bow­den does it all

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY -

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.

STREETER LECKA/GETTY

Ken­tucky's Lynn Bow­den Jr. runs against Vir­ginia Tech in the Belk Bowl on Tues­day.

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