Lynn Bowden stars as Kentucky rolls

Louisville Courier Journal

Published 11:07 PM EST Nov 30, 2019

LEXINGTON – After lifting the Governor’s Cup trophy alongside his teammates, Lynn Bowden needed a moment to himself before he walked off the Kroger Field turf.

The wide-receiver-turned-quarterback had just turned in one of the best performances in the rivalry’s history while leading Kentucky to a 45-13 win over Louisville. Bowden insisted his decision on whether to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft has not been made, but just in case this was his last time playing in UK’s stadium, he wanted to savor the moment.

“Just thinking we’ve been through a lot,” Bowden said. “I’ve been through a lot since I’ve been here. It’s just my home, my forever home. I just wanted to embrace that.”

Regardless of when the Youngstown, Ohio, native leaves Kentucky for the NFL, fans will remember the 2019 edition of the Governor’s Cup Rivalry as the “Lynn Bowden game.”

The game was supposed to be a tossup with Kentucky just a three-point betting favorite entering the afternoon.

Perhaps it would have been had quarterback injuries not forced Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran to overhaul the Wildcat offense midway through the season by moving Bowden behind center. But the game between the two versions of the rivals that showed up in Lexington did not turn out to be close at all.

Kentucky had Bowden, and Louisville did not.

Read this: Kentucky's defense proves it is indeed elite

"He is truly remarkable in so many ways,” Stoops said. “But you have to recognize his competitive nature, and just how tough and competitive and what a leader he is. … When you do that time and time again and prove it and put the team on your back, and say, ‘Let's ride, let's do this,’ it's remarkable.”

Bowden rushed for a career-high 284 yards and four touchdowns to help Kentucky secure its second consecutive blowout win in the series and first victory in Lexington since 2009.

UK attempted just two passes in the game, completing one for 4 yards, but rushed for 517 yards, setting a school single-game rushing record for the second consecutive week. The performance marked the first time in program history Kentucky had rushed for 500 yards in a game.

“We knew they were gonna run the football, but it’s still hard to stop,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “So were all the teams we’ve played. Defensively, we’ve struggled quite honestly, we all know that. We struggled this year tackling.”

Louisville actually jumped out to an early lead, marching 75 yards on nine plays for a touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Micale Cunningham to Tutu Atwell on the opening drive, but kicker Ryan Chalifoux missed the point-after attempt and little went right for the Cardinals from there.

Kentucky quickly answered with a six-play, 65-yard touchdown drive capped by a 4-yard A.J. Rose run. Matt Ruffolo's point-after attempt gave the Wildcats a 7-6 lead with 6:17 left in the first quarter.

Stoops' team never trailed again.

More: Tackling woes reach an extreme for Louisville football in the loss to Kentucky

Bowden's first touchdown came on a 6-yard run on the fourth play of the second quarter. A Ruffolo 45-yard field goal, set up by a failed fake punt attempt from Louisville, stretched the lead to 17-6 just more than three minutes of game time later.

Kentucky's rushing attack dominated the entire game, but Louisville briefly made things interesting just before halftime by stopping Bowden on a fourth-and-1 carry at the Louisville 43 yard-line with 35 seconds left in the first half. Two plays later redshirt freshman running back Javian Hawkins ran 56 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Cards within four points at 17-13 at halftime.

“To take that kind of a gut punch when you feel like you’re completely dominating sometimes can take the wind out of your sail, but it didn’t,” Stoops said. “Not one bit with this group. Came right back in here. Didn’t flinch. Lynn said, 'Don’t worry about it, I got you,' and he did.”

On the second play of the third quarter, Bowden sprinted 60 yards for his second touchdown. He added another score on a 43-yard touchdown run later in the quarter to stretch the lead to 31-13.

A 64-yard touchdown run from redshirt freshman running back Chris Rodriguez on Kentucky's first offensive play of the fourth quarter put the game out of reach. Bowden capped the night with a 32-yard run with 5:15 remaining, tying a UK single-game record for rushing touchdowns in a game.

Bowden's 284 rushing yards were most by a Southeastern Conference player this season and second most by a Kentucky player in a single game in program history.

“You’ve got No. 1 back there,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. “You’ve got a group around him that has really just kind of gelled. You’ve got some running backs that run hard. It always starts up front (with the offensive line). Then our receivers have bought in and our tight ends because all they want to do is win.”

Louisville's normally explosive offense was limited to just three plays of longer than 20 yards by the Kentucky defense. The Cards punted on each of their first four drives of the second half before losing a fumble on the final play.

A quarterback switch from Cunningham to freshman Evan Conley late in the third quarter did little to build momentum. With heavy rain falling throughout the game, the Cards also struggled to establish much of a passing game, completing 10 of 19 passes for 109 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

Havin' fun: Dampened but not derailed: Governor’s Cup fans press on despite downpour

Hawkins ran 22 times for 142 yards and one touchdown in his first Governor's Cup rivalry appearance, but Kentucky recorded 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.

“Bottom line, got wore down by their offensive line and their defensive line quite frankly," Satterfield said. "I think they kind of dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half."

It was Kentucky that turned out to be the more explosive team Saturday with 10 runs of at least 18 yards, including six from Bowden.

The dominant rushing performance put Kentucky over 3,000 rushing yards for the season, breaking the program’s record for most in a single year. In seven games with Bowden at quarterback, the Wildcats have averaged 352.7 rushing yards per game.

None of those performances were more dominant than the Louisville blowout though.

“We wanted to make a mark, put a stamp on it,” Bowden said. “Best O-line in the nation. Most dynamic player in the nation. Got my (running) backs, three-headed monster. Best RBU in the nation. We wanted to stamp it today, and I think we did that.”

Jon Hale: [email protected]; Twitter: @JonHale_CJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jonh.

Tags:                              

0 Comments