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Wildcats go to Lynn Bowden in come-from-behind win over Razorbacks to end three-game slide

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Mark Stoops put the ball in Lynn Bowden’s hands and the Wildcats ran with it, ending a three-game losing streak with a 24-20 win over Arkansas Saturday night.

Stoops and his staff made the decision to make a switch at quarterback to give Sawyer Smith more time to heal in preparation for the remainder of the season.

Bowden, who also fielded a punt return, rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns, including a 24-yard run with 6:53 remaining to help the Wildcats (3-3, 1-3) claim their first Southeastern Conference victory of the season. Bowden sprinkled in some passes and threw for 78 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Clevan Thomas.

Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden fends off an Arkansas defender to get into the end zone in a 24-20 win over the Razorbacks Saturday night. (Photo by Colbi Nelson, Kentucky Today)

Overall, the Wildcats collected 418 yards with most of that yardage coming on the ground. Paced by Bowden, Kentucky rushed for 330 yards. AJ Rose and Kavoseiy Smoke combined for 145 yards, with each runner breaking one run for 25 yards or more.

Bowden’s goal was to keep the Cats poised when they fell behing early in the second quarter. He was “at a loss for words “ and gave “all the glory to my teammates.”

“I’m a very vocal leader on the team and If I get down, then the team gets down,” he said. “I just kept confident and stayed positive throughout the whole game and I think it showed out there with my teammates and how I took it.”

Although experienced at playing under center, it was Bowden’s work behind the scenes that resulted in his performance against Razorbacks.

“When we talked to Lynn about playing quarterback full-time, he totally bought in,” Kentucky quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw said. “He was early to every one of my meetings and he watched extra film. He was constantly asking questions and he was constantly taking notes and doing everything you want for someone to take this serious — he’s not just a Wildcat quarterback, but he wants to play the position of quarterback.”

In order to beat the Razorbacks, the Kentucky coaching staff relied on a running scheme and used a dose of creativity to keep Arkansas off-balance.

Stoops said Smith progressed coming off the team’s lone bye week of the season, but added the Wildcats “invested a lot of time getting that game plan with Lynn” and the team responded in a positive manner.

“I think the guys grew up the past couple weeks and the way their approach was really good and their unity was really good and I mean I thought guys were very selfless the past couple weeks and just doing things necessary to for the benefit of the team and that showed up tonight,” Stoops said.

In his first career collegiate start, Bowden attempted a pass in the first quarter that was called back because of holding. Later in the quarter, Bowden fumbled a snap on an exchange on fourth-and-inches resulting in a turnover.

It wasn’t a good start for the Wildcats, who managed just 53 yards in the opening frame, while Arkansas collected 106 yards, including a 74-yard run by Rakeem Boyd on the second play from scrimmage.

Most of Kentucky’s plays were run-oriented and the Wildcats didn’t gain traction through the air until the second quarter when Bowden made back-to-back competitions to Justin Rigg, including a 31-yard strike to set up his own 3-yard run that pulled the Wildcats to within 13-7 with 55 seconds remaining in the first half.

Bowden was the centerpiece of the Kentucky offense and threw for 65 yards in the first half and rushed for 45 more.

In the second half, the Wildcats outscored the Razorbacks 17-7 to end the three-game slide. Arkansas, also coming off a bye week, fell to 2-4 and 0-3 in the SEC.

Remembering Lorenzen

Late Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen was honored before kickoff. Lorenzen passed away last July following a short illness. Lorenzen threw for 326 yards and added 39 yards rushing in a 71-63 seven overtime loss to the Razorbacks in 2003. Lorenzen’s coach that season — Rich Brooks — was in attendance at Saturday’s game. The game tied a record for the longest game played in NCAA history.

Moe returns

Former Kentucky running back Moe Williams served as honorary captain for the Wildcats. Williams rushed for 3,333 yards in his career and spent nine seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and one year with the Baltimore Ravens.

Gametracker: Kentucky at Georgia, TBA, Saturday. TV/Radio: TBA, UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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