Kentuky's Bowden showed skill, versatility in win over Hogs

By: Nate Allen
Published: Monday, October 14, 2019
Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of a game against Arkansas on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of a game against Arkansas on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.

FAYETTEVILLE -- If you have one offensively skilled player clearly way above all others, forget calling him a wide receiver and just snap him the ball.

The Kentucky Wildcats proved that premise to Arkansas Saturday night in Lexington, Ky., just like the Razorbacks proved to Kentucky in Lexington back in 2003.

With conventional Kentucky quarterbacks Terry Wilson, out for the season since Game Two, and his backup, Sawyer Smith, out injured post Game Five, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops turned to receiver Lynn Bowden quarterbacking his then 2-3 overall 0-3 in the SEC East Cats.

Since the Cats now stand 3-3, 1-3, with their 24-20 victory over 2-4, 0-3 in the SEC West Arkansas, their star receiver/punt returner/kick returner and occasional running back obviously succeeded. Spectacularly.

Kentucky's by far leading receiver for the season, 30 catches for 348 yards and a touchdown, Bowden never caught a pass against Arkansas. It wasn't required. For instead of having to work to get him the ball, the Cats and Bowden had a ball with the ball snapped directly to him.

The ex-high school quarterback, entering the game averaging 7.6 yards on 13 carries for 99 yards on reverses plus direct snap runs in the Wildcat formation, ran away with the game bewildering, bedazzling and blowing away Arkansas' defense. Bowden netted 196 yards and two touchdowns rushing on 24 carries. He threw just enough, and certainly effectively, 7 of 11 for 78 yards, including a 31-yard completion and a 10-yard touchdown without an interception, to keep Arkansas from total run game commitment.

Adding ground game diversity, Kentucky running backs Asmin Rose and Kavosiey Smoke combined for 27 carries and 135 yards. Kentucky's 330 rushing yards, 226 in the third quarter when the Cats advanced from down 13-6 to up 17-13, and Arkansas' third-down inability to contain Bowden figured in the Wildcats possessing the ball 37:11 to Arkansas' 22:49.

"Obviously, Lynn Bowden is just an unbelievable football player," Arkansas coach Chad Morris said. "We knew that coming in. We knew he was going to be quarterback and they were going to have the ball in his hands most of the night, and they did that. He's definitely dynamic with the football."

So was Matt Jones, the Arkansas quarterback whose 2003 performance in Lexington was personified by Kentucky's Bowden ironically on the very night the Wildcats honored their 2003 quarterback, the late Jared Lorenzen.

Jones and Lorenzen dueled heroically in the 2003 7-overtimes 71-63 classic that Arkansas finally won.

Jones, 6-6 with incredible speed, was NFL first-round drafted to be a wide receiver, the position several pundits pontificated he should have played at Arkansas.

Coach Houston Nutt kept Jones at quarterback.

Sixteen years later in Lexington, Lynn Bowden reminded us why. When you've got one player so offensively skilled above all others, just go ahead and snap him the ball.

Sports on 10/14/2019

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