LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Lynn Bowden seemingly couldn’t be stopped, no matter how many defenders Louisville stacked up toward that end. And as the game wore on, the Kentucky quarterback became more dominant.
Bowden’s reward was a career performance, while the Wildcats claimed milestones along with Bluegrass bragging rights.
Bowden rushed for 284 yards — an SEC single-game record by a quarterback — and a career-high four touchdowns to lead Kentucky’s school-record 517-yard ground performance that blew out rival Louisville 45-13 on Saturday in the Governor’s Cup showdown.
Bowden, whose feet have led Kentucky’s 5-2 turnaround since he moved from receiver to quarterback, broke the game open with TD runs of 60 and 46 yards in the third quarter for a 31-13 lead. The junior also had a 32-yard run in the fourth along with a 6-yarder in the second as Kentucky (7-5) surpassed 400 yards rushing for the third consecutive game.
That spoke volumes about Kentucky’s offensive line, which allowed Bowden to run virtually untouched for many of his 22 carries. He was quick to deflect attention from himself and give credit where due.
“Them big guys up there, the big blue wall, they created the holes and just left it all up to me and my ability,” said Bowden, who also surpassed 1,000 yards rushing this season.
Though Louisville (7-5) controlled the clock nearly 12 minutes longer, all of its points came before halftime. The rest of the game belonged to Bowden and Kentucky, which broke off explosive plays almost at will.
“We felt we were in control the entire game outside of that last 20 seconds, 30 seconds of the first half,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said, referring to Javian Hawkins’ 56-yard scoring run that brought Louisville within 17-13.
“To take that kind of a gut punch when you feel like you’re completely dominating can take the wind out of your sails, but it didn’t. Not one bit with this group.
“But we didn’t flinch. Lynn said, ‘don’t worry about it, I got you,’ and he did. What can you say about Lynn? He’s truly remarkable in so many ways.”
Bowden’s yardage total was 15 short of Moe Williams’ single-game mark of 299 against South Carolina in September 1995. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have 3,293 yards and broke their single-season rushing mark of 3,124 in 1974. Their 517 yards shattered last week’s previous record of 462 against UT Martin.
Bowden was named the winner of the Howard Schnellenberger Award as the game’s most outstanding player.
But then, the Wildcats already knew that.
“Just a phenomenal player,” said Chris Rodriguez, who added a 64-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter and totaled 125 yards on nine carries. “There’s nothing he can’t do. Might as go on the basketball team. Probably could play soccer, too.”
AJ Rose had a 4-yard TD run in the first as the bowl-bound Wildcats cruised to their third consecutive win and third Governor’s Cup win in four years.
“We wanted it more,” Bowden said. “So we just went out there and fought tough and played the game and let the results play out.”
Javian Hawkins’ rushed 22 times for 142 yards, including a 56-yard TD just before halftime that brought the Cardinals (7-5) within 17-13. Micale Cunningham tossed a 33-yard TD pass to Tutu Atwell on the game’s opening possession but it was all Kentucky after that.
“We knew they were going to run the football and it was still hard to stop,” first-year coach Scott Satterfield said. “We had guys there and just couldn’t get them down.”
Louisville: The Cardinals’ high-scoring attack came to a screeching halt as they failed to generate little more than a few big plays. Their defensive deficiencies were exposed yet again as Bowden and several other backs had room to run for big plays that put the game out of reach quickly in the second half.
Kentucky: One-dimensional or not — they completed just one of two passes for four yards — the ground game works for the Wildcats. Though their defense allowed more than 305 yards for the first time in seven games (318), it didn’t matter as they hemmed in the Cardinals nearly all day and recorded six sacks. An excellent way to bid farewell to their seniors.
Louisville and Kentucky await bowl destinations next month.