When it came down to the final minute, Kentucky made big plays on Tuesday.

The Wildcats scored the go-ahead touchdown with 15 seconds remaining on a 13-yard pass from Lynn Bowden Jr. to Josh Ali, and a defensive score as time expired sealed a 37-30 win over Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl.

Kentucky finished the season 8-5, winning four straight games to end the year.

“Obviously, one heck of a football game,” Wildcats coach Mark Stoops told the media at his postgame press conference. “We knew it was going to be a tough, hard-fought game, and it certainly was. So proud of our coaching staff and our players, so once again find a way to win. That kind of personifies our year. There’s ups, there’s downs, there’s good and bad, but keep on fighting through it, grinding through it, finding a way. I love this football team, our players, their fight and their determination.”

Here’s more of what Stoops had to say after the thrilling game:

  • On end of year: “Just wanted to finish this thing right, finish this season right. That’s kind of poetic that it happened that way. I feel fortunate to win the game, but also very proud of our players.”
  • On final offensive play: “One thing about throwing it, it gives Lynn the opportunity to scramble. With no timeouts left, that would be tough. We were thinking about running it before Virginia Tech took the timeout. But I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to take that option from him to be able to create.”
  • On final offensive drive: “Really, in my mind, I was thinking of an eight-minute drive, I really was. Sure, I would take a chunk play. But you know we’re not build that way. But we’re also built really difficult to stop in four downs.”
  • On Bowden: “Nothing he does surprises me. Everything he does, he competes. He cares about his teammates and you can’t ever count him out. I’m just so proud of him and how far he’s come.”
  • On pregame scuffle: “There were very little discussions with the officials, other than, ‘Let’s get a hold of this from the start,’ and make sure we didn’t carry it over to game time. We talked to our players, and they did a good job. We were amped up a little bit early and shot ourselves in the foot with some penalties, and we can’t do that. We were lucky to overcome that.”