Kentucky desperately needed a big play. Lynn Bowden delivered.
After the Cats were stuffed on a fourth down run inside the red zone, time was running out for a potential comeback. The UK defense held their own, but the offense could not get the ball into the end zone. With just over five minutes to play, Mark Stoops was approached by Lynn Bowden.
“Lynn wanted the ball in his hand. He told me, ‘I’m going in on punt return.’ I said, ‘Go do your thing.’”
Lynn did his thing. Fifty-seven yards later, Kentucky had its first touchdown of the day.
Normally, Bowden is used exclusively for kickoff returns. When he interjected to return the punt, Stoops knew something special was going to happen.
“When you’re coaching guys all these years, when they say, ‘give me the rock,’ some times it’s lip-service. They all want that. Then there’s some times when there’s a shear desire in that guy’s eyes that he’s going to do it. That’s what he had today. He was just unbelievable. He made tough plays all night. No environment is too big for him. He’s not afraid of anything. He’s not perfect, but he’s going to play and what he did was special.”
Bowden knew he was going to have a big day. Something felt different this morning as the wide receiver prepared for kickoff. Once the time came, everything clicked. He finished with a career-high 13 receptions for 166 yards. On his career day, Bowden refused to lose.
“I wasn’t going home with an L,” Bowden said. “We couldn’t go home with an L. We couldn’t do it. We came too far. We prepared too hard. We got a chip on our shoulder.”