LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Lynn Bowden Jr. is hard to stop on a dry turf. He proved to be even harder to slow down in a steady downpour.
The Kentucky junior converted quarterback rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 29-7 win over Missouri Saturday night.
“What can you say about Lynn? Amazing,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “So tough – so tough and talented. If the weather had been clear like in the first half I felt he would have thrown the ball well. We had some opportunities in the pass game because he is so dynamic in the run game. It was tough out there. It was really coming down.”
The two teams combined for seven fumbles and four lost miscues in a steady rain that didn’t seem to bother Bowden. Going into the second bye week of the season, the Wildcats (4-4, 2-4 SEC) moved within two wins of bowl eligibility with four games remaining. Kentucky has won five straight over the Tigers.
“Really good victory for our team and for our program,” Stoops said. “Really proud of our guys. I told you and told them the last three or four weeks I’ve felt they have been gelling. Working exceptionally hard and playing for each other and very unselfish. The big thing is playing hard and preparing the right way.”
Making his third consecutive start in the absence of injured starter Sawyer Smith, Bowden was nearly unstoppable. Sparked by Bowden, the Wildcats rushed for 297 yards. Bowden has rushed for 499 yards and four touchdowns since taking over as the team’s starting quarterback.
Bowden threw a career-best 44-yard strike to Bryce Oliver that led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Kavosiey Smoke, giving the Wildcats a 6-0 lead. Bowden also contributed to the drive with an 18-yard run.
Smith replaced Bowden for three plays in the second quarter, but returned and rushed for a first down on a fourth-down play that led to a 20-yard score by A.J. Rose. On the next series, Bowden ripped off a 46-yard run that led to a 43-yard field goal by Chance Poore for a 15-0 lead.
A Missouri fumble resulted in a 10-yard touchdown run by Bowden with 10 seconds remaining in the first half, giving the Wildcats a 22-0 advantage at the break.
Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant threw for 130 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Badie to open the second half for Missouri (5-3, 2-2). Backup quarterback Taylor Powell replaced Bryant in the third quarter and threw for 34 yards.
Kentucky: The Wildcats’ defense shut out No. 10 Georgia in the first half of a 21-0 loss on Oct. 19 and didn’t allow a score in the first half against the Tigers. Kentucky has surrendered just 24 points or less in 22 straight games, the longest streak in the nation. The Wildcats improved to 4-1 at home this season. The lone home loss was a 29-21 loss to No. 7 Florida on Sept. 14.
Missouri: The Tigers averaged 38.8 points per game in their first six contests but have struggled during the past two weeks. Missouri has failed to score more than two touchdowns in each of the last two games. The Tigers rushed for 123 yards against the Wildcats after managing 153 a week ago against the Commodores. Missouri is in the midst of a three-game road swing after playing five of their first six games at home.
For just the second time in his career, Kentucky senior linebacker Kash Daniel didn’t play after starting 19 of the past 20 games. Daniel suffered an undisclosed injury in Kentucky’s 21-0 loss at Georgia on Oct. 19. Daniel is third on the team in tackles with 36 tackles this season and has logged 146 in his career. Chris Oats started in place of Daniel and finished with eight tackles.
KICK AND RUN
Kentucky punter Max Duffy is averaging a nation-leading 45.3 yards per punt but displayed his speed when he converted a fake punt into a first down with a 26-yard run in the fourth quarter. The extended drive led to a 33-yard touchdown run by Bowden.
Kentucky hosts Tennessee on Nov. 9
Missouri is at No. 10 Georgia on Nov. 9