For Virginia Tech and Bud Foster, the Belk Bowl didn’t provide the storybook ending they wanted to see.
Following a chippy first half, a last-minute touchdown pass powered Kentucky to a 37-30 win over Tech in the 18th Belk Bowl. This will also be the final Belk Bowl as the title sponsor confirmed earlier this year that they were pulling out of the postseason game after 2019.
Lynn Bowden Jr., who began the season as a wide receiver before moving to quarterback due to injuries, connected with Josh Ali from 13 yards with 15 seconds left for the game-winning score. It was Bowden’s sixth completion of the game and just his third touchdown pass on the season.
It was Bowden’s legs, though, that propelled UK to the win.
Bowden, who previously announced he’s leaving early for the NFL, ran for 233 yards and two touchdowns in the win. The senior broke Johnny Manziel‘s record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a bowl game. This was the sixth-straight game Bowden, named the Hornung Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player, has rushed for at least 100 yards. In the regular-season finale against Louisville, Bowden put up 284.
The final margin was provided by Jordan Wright‘s 28-yard fumble return for a touchdown with no time left on the clock.
In a losing effort, Tech’s Deshawn McClease ran for 126 yards on just 11 carries. Hendon Hooker also passed for a pair of touchdowns, with both of those coming in the first half.
Tech, incidentally, became the first team to score 30 or more points on Kentucky this season.
As for Foster, it was his last game as the Hokies’ defensive coordinator after 33 seasons at the school. The school announced in August that Foster would be stepping down.
Foster began his three decades-plus tenure with the Hokies as inside linebackers coach in 1987. In 1995, Foster was promoted to defensive coordinator, a post he’s held for the past 24 seasons. He also continued coaching the team’s linebackers.
With the win, Kentucky improved to 8-5 on the season. They now have 18 wins on the season, the most in any two-year stretch since 1976-77.
Virginia Tech finished the year 8-5 as well in Justin Fuente‘s fourth season at the school.