By LARRY VAUGHT
Maybe it was only fitting that on a night when Kentucky honored the memory of Jared Lorenzen that the Cats got a Lorenzen-like performance from junior Lynn Bowden.
The receiver turned quarterback — remember when Matt Roark did the same thing and beat Tennessee — did a little bit of everything to rally UK to a 24-20 win over Arkansas that might have saved UK’s season.
The Cats had lost three straight games to drop to 2-3 overall and play at Georgia next and even if South Carolina did stun the Bulldogs this week, playing at Georgia on a four-game losing streak would not have been a good thing for UK.
Bowden made sure that didn’t happen. He completed seven of 11 passes for 78 yards and ran 24 times for 196 yards and two scores, including the game winner with 6:53 to play on a 24-yard run. Later he had a 51-yard run to help the Cats run out the clock
“Really proud that we got the win in Jared’s memory and for his family. Proud of our team for the way they played. Hope they kept him in the back of their minds because that is the way Jared played. He laid it on the line each and every week,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
Kentucky had to lay it on the line, too, after falling behind 13-0 as Bowden almost willed UK to a win.
“Lynn is just a dynamic player. He is a winner. He did that stuff in high school. He can throw it. Just really proud of him,” Stoops said.
Kentucky had not made it clear if Sawyer Smith, who had started the three previous games after Terry Wilson was knocked out for the season, would be physically able to play or not leading up to the game. After the game Stoops said the coaches had known for almost two weeks that Bowden would start.
“During the week we were keeping it under wraps that I was going to play quarterback. My teammates and coaches put their trust in me,” Bowden said.
After the game, he went to offensive coordinator Eddie Gran — who has been criticized plenty by UK fans in recent weeks — to hug him.
“He put his trust in me. He trusted me with his offense. This is what they brought me here to do and we are going to keep it rolling,” Bowden said. “I think we found ourself a little bit tonight. Now just keep it rolling.”
But will Bowden go back to receiver or stay at quarterback? Stoops wouldn’t exactly say after the game and Bowden certainly indicated staying at quarterback would be fine with him.
SEC Network analyst Jordan Rodgers, a former Vanderbilt and NFL quarterback, is a Bowden believer.
“He has shown he can do enough in the pass game to keep defenses honest and keep them balanced,” Rodgers said. “You want the ball in the hands of your best player and this way they can do that.”