In a game of inches, Kentucky failed to get theirs when it mattered most to close out the game.
With the ball at the Tennessee one-yard line with 2:11 remaining, redshirt freshman running back Christopher Rodriguez fell just short of the line of scrimmage on third down. And on fourth with the game on the line, quarterback Lynn Bowden rushed right on the option, faked the pitch, and cut upfield. Like Rodriguez, the junior playmaker was stopped short of the goal line, ultimately solidifying the Volunteer victory.
After the game, there was a bit of back-and-forth on social media about Bowden’s decision to not pitch the ball on the final offensive play, with some fans feeling Rodriguez had open space to make a play at the pylon.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 10, 2019
During his postgame press conference, Stoops defended Bowden for his decision to take it, saying he has earned the right to make a judgement call in that situation.
“I thought Lynn made a really good play, I’ll never argue with Lynn about taking it right there,” Stoops said. “He stretched it to the perimeter. We’ll look at it and probably feel like if he pitched it, it would have been a footrace to the pylon. It probably had a chance, but I’m not going to argue with that kid and how he had the chance to pull the ball down and try to drive it in there for that one yard. Credit them for a nice stop.”
At the end of the day, though, the Wildcats will have to find a way to punch it in the end zone to close out the season.
“Just getting in the end zone,” Stoops said. “We’ve got to find a way to get the ball in the end zone. That’s the bottom line. You make that yard, you make a couple plays, and it’s a much different situation. But it didn’t happen, so we need to regroup and get back to work. I’m sure this team will.”