UK Football

‘Big-time guys stepped up at big-time moments’ in UK’s win at Missouri

There was unadulterated joy in the Kentucky locker room.

Coach Mark Stoops decided to leap into a group of players and crowd-surf.

“I thought we was at a concert, man,” wide receiver Lynn Bowden described, eyes wide. “I was like, ‘Woah, I’ve never seen that.’”

There were a lot of crazy things that many people have never seen in No. 12 Kentucky’s 15-14 comeback win at Missouri on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

Some things that people never expected to see with Kentucky down by as many as 11 points for much of the game.

There was C.J. Conrad coming down with the game-winning touchdown on a 2-yard catch with time already expired. UK got the extra play with zeroes on the scoreboard because of a pass interference call.

“We rep it all the time in practice,” said Wilson, who had struggled so mightily a week ago against Vanderbilt, leading UK down the field and throwing the touchdown to Conrad for the Cats’ fourth straight victory over Missouri.

“We call it grip. It’s C.J.’s play,” said Wilson, who completed 22 of 31 passes for 267 yards and that TD. “We practice it all the time. We put our trust in him and I just let it go.”

There was Bowden, normally not the punt returner, begging to go in and make a big play like he had all night for the offense. He did just that with a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown with 5:18 to go to give the Cats the jolt they had lacked all night on offense.

The sophomore wide receiver also managed career bests of 166 yards on 13 catches.

“Big shout out to Lynn,” Conrad said. “He was our guy that kind of got us going tonight. He was asking for it in the fourth quarter. He wanted it and we gave it to him.

“He made huge plays for our offense and Terry was unbelievable on the last drive, just the confidence that he had. I’m so proud of those guys. Our big-time guys stepped up at big-time moments. That’s all you can ask.”

While the offense was the hero at the end, the night belonged to Kentucky’s defense, which held Missouri to 49 yards in the second half. The Tigers were among the league’s most potent offenses coming into the game, averaging 38.6 points and 501.1 yards.

Missouri didn’t convert on a third down in the second half.

Kentucky outgained the Tigers 385-249, including 294-165 through the air behind Wilson. Benny Snell had 19 carries for 57 yards.

Josh Allen led the way on defense with 11 tackles, including two sacks and two tackles for loss as well as two forced fumbles. Jordan Jones added 10 tackles. Darius West tacked on eight tackles.

“Unbelievable. I have too much emotion in me,” Allen said. “I know I don’t have emotions coming out, but I’m feeling really good. This is a great team win.”

It’s a great high before Kentucky (7-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) faces Georgia on Saturday with Kroger Field with the SEC East on the line.

There was Stoops after the game talking about a changed culture, talking about a team that’s different this time. Different this season.

“That group up there, what we did and the way we did, they’re special,” Stoops said. “I even felt us evolve tonight and just really come together and find a way to get that victory for each other. And it was really nice that all three sides had to do it. That makes it really gratifying.”

Next game

No. 7 Georgia at No. 12 Kentucky

3:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS)