CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Lynn Bowden Jr. ran for 223 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.
The Wildcats (8-5) added a final touchdown as time expired when Jordan Wright returned a failed lateral attempt by the Hokies 28 yards for a touchdown.
Hendon Hooker threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns and Deshawn McClease ran for 126 yards and a score to lead the Hokies (8-5).
Kentucky overcame two second-half turnovers by holding Virginia Tech to two field goals and a punt on its final three possessions.
Bowden, the game’s MVP, carried 13 times on the winning drive.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies lose only five senior starters, all on defense. Their offensive line is all freshman and sophomores, a good sign for continuity. Hooker is a junior.
Kentucky: The Wildcats will have to replace Bowden, the team’s third starting quarterback this season. Bowden also finished as the team’s leading receiver, despite playing quarterback for the final eight games.
Virginia Tech: Host Liberty on Sept. 5.
Kentucky: Host Eastern Michigan on Sept. 5.