An absolute barnburner of a game came down to the legendary Lynn Bowden having the ball in the final minutes needing a TD, and he hit Josh Ali for a go-ahead touchdown pass with 15 seconds left, and the Cats’ defense then recovered a fumble and returned it for a score to give Kentucky a 37-30 win.
It was an incredible game, with a thrilling finish that ended up with the good guys coming out on top.
Here are your things to know from the 2019 edition of the Belk Bowl.
1. Pre-Game Scuffle
Prior to the start of the Belk Bowl, Kentucky and Virginia Tech players got into another scuffle, this time with fists flying. Lynn Bowden avoided ejection because the altercation happened outside of the one-hour timeframe before the game was scheduled to kick.
Things were extremely chippy in the first quarter with a slew of personal foul penalties, but the game did cool down as it went on.
Bowden also required a police escort out onto the field.
ESPN’s video of the Kentucky/Virginia Tech scuffle featuring Lynn Bowden pic.twitter.com/xgxOp8YLYo— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) December 31, 2019
The first half was filled with some miscues for Kentucky, most of them on the defensive side of the ball. On the first drive, Kentucky was flagged with two (questionable) personal foul penalties, however they did hold VT to a field-goal.
Then, AJ Rose ripped off a long touchdown run which was then negated by a Logan Stenberg holding penalty. Stenberg was also flagged with a personal foul penalty in the first half.
And the Kentucky defense allowed two passing touchdowns on third down, both of which were very preventable.
Those miscues caused the Wildcats to trail by three heading into the half.
AJ Rose also had a very costly fumble at the end of the third quarter, in which he looked down, but ESPN did not have a camera angle somehow to disprove that.
3. Lynn Bowden’s last game
Lynn Bowden did not let up from his usual antics, torching a Bud Foster led defense. The offense stayed true to its calling, despite some forced passes in the game, one of which was picked off but called back for pass interference, and another which went for an interception.
The passing game felt forced all day long and it felt like the coaching staff was trying to get away from what has worked, or Bowden just made some bad decisions.
Lynn Bowden also ran for his longest touchdown in his career at 61 yards. Bowden also broke Johnny Manziel’s record for rushing yards in a bowl game by a QB.
Bowden ran all over Virginia Tech, much like he has every team this season. Bowden eclipsed 200 yards yet again. It was an honor and a privilege watching Lynn Bowden suit up for Kentucky.
4. The Defense was not good at all
This was by far the defense’s worst game of the season. They seemed out of position and lost on plays all game long, for an offense that wasn’t anything that Kentucky hadn’t seen all year.
Allowing multiple conversions on both 3rd and 4th downs, the secondary got torched for what was their worst game of the season as well. This was also the first time the defense allowed 30 points all season long.
They also struggled to defend the run game as well, getting gashed by an offensive line that was not as good as the UK defensive line. Some of that can be attributed to being gassed as the game wore on, but still, it was a very disappointing performance from a Kentucky defense that his overachieved its expectations this season.
Luckily Kentucky returns everyone from the secondary for next season and adds LSU transfer Kelvin Joseph along with injured Wildcat Devonte Robinson.
5. Kentucky finishes a good season
With the season looking bleak after Terry Wilson got injured and with Kentucky staring at a 2-3 record, Lynn Bowden took over control of QB1 and led Kentucky to a 7-5 regular season, rushing for over 100 yards in every game except one.
Lynn Bowden carried Kentucky to a 5-2 record with him under center and ushered in a new style of offense for Kentucky, a pure ground-and-pound style with only the quarterback.
It was a fun and exciting season that saw a complete turnaround from 2-3 to 7-5. Lynn Bowden won the Paul Hornung Award and Kentucky signed their best recruiting class in program history.
Overall, it was a successful season with arguably Mark Stoops’ best coaching job yet. See you all in 2020. Happy New Year and Go Cats.