Bowden puts on a show in win over the Commodores


Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. runs in a touchdown during the game against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. Kentucky won 38-14. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Kentucky football (5-5, 3-5 SEC) became one step closer to receiving bowl game eligibility Saturday in Nashville, in what was Lynn Bowden’s best passing performance of the season. 

The Cats lit up the Commodore defense in their 38-14 win, totaling a season-high 528 yards of offense. Bowden accounted for 214 of those yards. 

“It was a big win for us,” Bowden said. “We’re just one step closer to our goal. We’ve got two more left. We want to get both of them, but we’ve just got to worry about next week.”

On the game, the wide receiver-turned-quarterback went 8-of-10 passing for a career-high 104 yards, and added 110 yards on the ground and a touchdown in his fifth game as the Cats’ starting quarterback. In his last four, he hasn’t passed for more than 78 yards in a game.

“Just want to make people respect us,” Bowden said. “Our ground game is A-1, we want to get our passing game A-1, too.”

Kentucky was the first team on the board after a not-so-effective trip to the red zone resulted in a Chance Poore field goal. However, after an easy touchdown drive and a fumble recovery for Vandy, UK suddenly trailed 14-3 in the first quarter. 

The Cats would then go on to score 35 unanswered points: two touchdowns from running back Chris Rodriguez, and a touchdown each from Bowden, Kavosiey Smoke and Josh Ali. UK head coach Mark Stoops says the key to not falling into a deeper hole after going down 14-3 was having confidence in their game plan and not panicking. 

“Because let’s face it, we are methodical right now and there’s not a ton of explosive plays,” Stoops said. “Now we created some, and we created some big yardage again and controlled the clock. However, when you go down 14-3, if you’re not a team that has confidence in what we’re doing, you could flinch right there, because you know points have been hard.”

Bowden did just about everything for the Cats—on the ground, through the air, blocking and helping push his teammates into the end zone. Stoops says Bowden is doing “amazing things” given the situation he’s been thrown into this season. He also credits offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw for preparing Bowden and helping him understand the playbook better. 

“You put him back there and he makes people miss, but he also lowers his shoulders and runs over people when he has to,” Stoops said. “So just, you put it all together and it’s pretty remarkable some of the things he’s doing right now.”

The Cats went 8-for-11 on third down conversions, which is something they’ve previously struggled with, especially last week when they played Tennessee. Two of those third downs against the Commodores came as big chunk plays for the Cats, both in the same drive. One a 28-yard rush from Smoke as the Cats faced 3rd-and-26, the other a 27-yard run from Rodriguez for a touchdown. 

“We needed to make some critical plays in critical moments and this week we did,” Stoops said. 

The Cats head back home to face UT Martin on Saturday, Nov. 23 as they seek a sixth win to become bowl eligible.