By LARRY VAUGHT
Sophomore Lynn Bowden seemed as happy that he helped UK’s seniors win their final game as he did that he returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown and caught five passes for 84 yards in Saturday’s 27-24 Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State.
“It feels good. It feels good to send the seniors off on a good note. That’s a tough group right there. We’re all a tough group. It just feels good,” Bowden, who also had a punt return touchdown against Missouri, said.
Just like he did at Missouri, Bowden put himself into the game to return the kick. He said regular returner David Bouvier told him to take his spot any time he want while he was talking to Josh Ali and Isaiah Epps, so he did it.
‘I am now two-for-two in calling it. That’s what I did. I got out there and saw the blocks, and that’s what happened,” Bowden said after becoming the first UK player ever to return a punt for a TD in a bowl game. “We weren’t expecting him to kick the ball that far. I got it, I looked up and saw everybody with clean, legal blocks as they would say, and I put a move on a couple guys because I knew I was faster and just outran them.”
Coach Mark Stoops called Bowden, who broke the school record for a sophomore with 84 catches, a game-changer.
“He really does a great job. He made some very creative plays today. He’s good with the ball in his hands. We need to do a better job of making sure we find ways to get him the ball. And he’s definitely got some big play ability. (We’re) very proud of him and the punt return was huge. The play that he made on the screen (was a) very good individual play by him, too,” Stoops said.
Bowden had the most receptions this year by a UK receiver since Randall Cobb had 84 in 2010. He said UK’s scoring drive to start the second half was a spark that UK needed.
“I kind of led that coming out of the half. We were all on beat,” Bowden said.
He said the postgame celebration was fun.
“It was a great feeling, like Christmas came around again. It was a great feeling and we were like a bunch of kids,” he said.
He said the seniors were a “great” group of players and it hurts to see them leave.
“But we’ve just got to stay together,” Bowden said.