Bowden's late TD pass lifts Kentucky past VTech 37-30

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Virginia Tech running back Keshawn King, left, carries the ball as Kentucky linebacker Jamar Watson (31) pursues in the first half of the Belk Bowl NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

CHARLOTTE, NC – Lynn Bowden Jr. outplayed Virginia Tech all day with his feet.

Then he closed them out with his arm.

“Ya'll said I couldn't throw, so over the top it goes,” Bowden joked after the game.

Bowden ran for 233 yards on 34 carries, and then tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Josh Ali with 15 seconds left as Kentucky rallied behind its remarkable receiver-turned-quarterback to beat Virginia Tech 37-30 on Tuesday in the Belk Bowl.

Bowden ran for two touchdowns before leading an 18-play, 85-yard game-winning drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock. It ended with Ali getting open down the middle of the end zone.

Bowden, who took over as Kentucky's quarterback after five games because of injuries, passed for 73 yards on 12 attempts. His rushing day was the biggest in a bowl game since Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel ran for 219 yards vs. Oklahoma in 2013.

Bowden said he never would have believed his final play as a college player would be a touchdown pass to win a bowl game. But a pregame scuffle with Virginia Tech players — in which TV footage showed Bowden apparently throwing a punch — could have written a very different story for the dynamic quarterback.

For two programs that hadn’t met since 1987 — long before anyone on either roster was born - this one got testy before kickoff. Tussles broke out between players during pregame warmups, but officials didn’t levy penalties or warnings for the actions.