Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 12 No. 3 | January 2020

As Bud Foster, Virginia Tech’s longtime assistant coach and defensive coordinator, walked off the field for the final time following the Hokies’ loss to Kentucky in the Belk Bowl, he appeared to be in a state of reflection. Yet, the truth of the matter revealed a far different story. “I was really pretty ticked off, to be honest with you,” Foster said. Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. put Foster in such a frame of mind after guiding the Wildcats on an 85-yard march that ended with his 13-yard touchdown pass to Josh Ali with 15 seconds remaining to push Kentucky past the Hokies 37-30 on New Year’s Eve at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The loss left the Hokies at 8-5 overall on the season, and it marked their third consecutive bowl loss. Tech started the 2019 campaign at 2-2 following a disheartening 45-10 loss to Duke on Sept. 27, but won six of its next seven games to become bowl eligible for the 27th straight season. “I’m proud of our squad,” Tech head coach Justin Fuente said. “I’m proud of everything they accomplished. I don’t know if there is a better term than we were left for dead early in the year, and then we battled back. The fact that we didn’t come through in this game doesn’t diminish my pride in them, my excitement for the direction of our program, and my belief in them.” The Belk Bowl ultimately came down to the need for Foster’s defense to get a stop. But Bowden and the Wildcats simply and patiently pecked away, going 85 yards and chewing more than 8 minutes off the clock. The longest play on the winning drive was the touchdown pass—no other play gained more than 9 yards. Foster’s defense had opportunities to get off the field on the drive, but Kentucky converted twice on fourth down. Arguably the biggest play of the game came when Kentucky faced a fourth-and-7 from its own 43 in the final few minutes, and the Wildcats converted when Bowden completed a 9-yard pass to Ali, who made a difficult catch at the Tech 48 for the first down. The catch was the first of the two fourth-down situations that the Wildcats converted—the other was a fourth-and-1 from the Tech 26 with 1:01 remaining—and certainly the biggest. “We got them where we wanted them sometimes,” Tech mike linebacker Rayshard Ashby said. “We should have finished, and we didn’t. Hats off to them. They did what they needed to, and they pulled off the win.” Bowden’s touchdown pass to Ali came after a Tech timeout with 19 seconds left, and the Wildcats took advantage of an Ali matchup against Hokies redshirt freshman cornerback Armani Chatman, who started after both of the Hokies’ starting cornerbacks—Caleb Farley and Jermaine Waller—missed the game with injuries. On the ensuing possession, Tech took over at its 25 and tried to get into position for a “Hail Mary” attempt. Quarterback Hendon Hooker, though, overthrew two quick pass attempts, leaving the Hokies in desperation mode on the game’s final play. A series of laterals after Deshawn McClease rushed for a career-best 126 yards, and Hendon Hooker threw two touchdown passes, but Kentucky scored in the final seconds to claim a 37-30 victory in the Belk Bowl by Jimmy Robertson CLOSE BOWL LOSS CLOSES HOKIES’ SEASON , FOSTER’S CAREER 16 Inside Hokie Sports