By LARRY VAUGHT
After Josh Allen’s record-breaking game against Middle Tennessee, he thanked everyone on the defense for helping him do what he did.
Allen had two sacks Saturday to give him 27.5 career sacks to break Oliver Barnett’s career mark of 26 set from 1986-89. His 13 sacks this season broke the previous record of 12 set by Dennis Johnson in 2001.
Allen, who had 15 tackles in his final home game, said in the preseason one reason he came back to UK for his senior year was to break every record he could and help UK win. He’s done both as UK has eight regular season wins for the first time since 1984.
“I know a chapter has to end. I just know this is getting to the last page in my chapter and open chapter 5,” Allen said after the win. “I’m ready to move on and go from there, but just to be out there one last time and go all the way was just unbelievable.”
Junior linebacker Kash Daniel said few understand the amount of work that Allen has put in to get to where he is now.
“That guy is a workhorse. He’s a relatively new father, but I can imagine it being kind of hard and then him even putting extra time to his son and then finding extra time to come out and do something extra in practice every day,” Daniel said.
“That guy literally has as family to provide for and he’s out here playing his you-know-what off and to see him break that record was unbelievable. I was blessed to be a part of it. I’ll never forget it and it will never leave my mind.”
Allen, who had his son with him for his senior ceremony, said he was “extremely happy” after the win and he signed autographs for every fan who wanted one before he left the stadium.
“I can remember every day just going through whether I should come back or leave. Deciding to come back, I knew I had something special this year,” Allen said. “We have a special team and I knew we were going to do special things. I worked extremely hard for moments like this.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, the former defensive coordinator at Florida State, says he’s never had a better defensive player than Allen.
“I’ve had a Thorpe winner and a couple runners-up and been in the Thorpe several times. But just the way he impacts the game being a big guy, he’s really remarkable. And he’s so unselfish,” Stoops said.
“You see players so often in situations like that and he won’t blink an eye if we’re not rushing him. And the way their run game was we were stacking them some and couldn’t get him coming off the edges as much as we would like to. It was even aggravating to me.
“I was like, ‘Hey, let’s get Josh going here.’ But he’s just, he doesn’t even think about it. If he gets, when he gets his opportunities, he’s going to go. And he wanted the record, but not at the expense of our defense and what we’re doing and game planning.”