With the win, Kentucky improves to 7-6, and with the loss East Carolina falls to 9-5.
UK 's win marks its third consecutive bowl win, a first in the 118 seasons of Kentucky football. UK beat Clemson and Florida State in back-to-back Music City Bowls the last two seasons.
The Wildcats played in their third consecutive bowl game for the first time since the 1949-50-51 teams.
UK is 20-12 in its last 32 games, dating back to mid-season, 2006.
Kentucky has won 14 consecutive non-conference games, the second-longest active streak in the nation, behind only LSU, which has won 19 straight non-conference games.
Kentucky finished 5-0 in 2008 against non-conference foes.
Trailing 19-16, Kentucky came from behind in the fourth quarter for the victory. It marked the ninth time over the last 31 games that UK came from behind in the fourth quarter to win the game.
Dating back to mid-season 2006, Kentucky is 12-7 in games decided by 10 points or less,
The Wildcats finished 5-2 in games played at night and 2-0 in games played on an artificial surface in 2008.
Kentucky notched its seventh win of the year. The last time UK won at least seven games in three consecutive seasons was 1949-50-51.
Kentucky has an all-time record of 8-5 in bowl games. This was UK 's first appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Kentucky made its ninth live national or regional television appearance of the season Friday, tying the 1999 and 2007 seasons for most live TV appearances in a season.
First Quarter Notes
Kentucky won the toss and elected to defer to the second half.
Senior Tim Masthay booted the opened kickoff through the endzone for a touchback.
On the first play from scrimmage, Johnny Williams knifed through the line to drop the Pirates for a one-yard loss.
With ECU facing a third and 19 on its opening possession, junior Corey Peters hauled down Patrick Pinkney for a five-yard loss, the fourth sack of the year for Peters.
On a third and nine, Pinkney connected on a 42-yard pass play with Davon Drew to get ECU to the UK nine-yard line.
After the UK defense held in the ECU redzone, Ben Hartman drilled a 22-yard field goal (5:24) to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
After gaining two yards on one carry during UK 's first possession, Tony Dixon totaled 37 yards on six carries during UK 's second drive of the game, cumulating in a missed field goal by Lones Seiber from 51 yards.
Second Quarter Notes
ECU got the first touchdown of the game, as Brandon Simmons broke through the UK defense for a 28-yard touchdown run (14:14), making it 10-0 Pirates.
On a fourth and inches from the 44 yard line of UK , Jon Conner picked up the first down with a second-effort on a fullback dive.
On the following first down, Mike Hartline hooked up with Gene McCaskill for a 48-yard reception, giving UK a first and goal from the ECU seven. The catch was a career-long for McCaskill, who totaled three catches for 64 yards on the drive.
After a third and goal pass play was defended, Lones Seiber connected on a 21-yard field goal to narrow the lead to 10-3 (8:59).
On the first play after a Tim Masthay touchback, Patrick Pinkney connected with Darryl Freeney for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Pinkney was pressured immediately after receiving the snap and upon scrambling found Freeney streaking down the sideline.
The ensuing PAT by the Pirates was blocked by defensive tackle Ventrell Jenkins. The block was UK 's 26th blocked kick during head coach Rich Brooks six seasons, the fifth block this year.
On a third and seven from UK 's own 28-yard line, Hartline hooked up with T.C. Drake for a 15-yard play, giving UK a first down from its own 43.
On a third and three from the ECU 27, Braxton Kelley sacked Patrick Pinkney for a two-yard loss at the ECU 25, Kelley's fourth sack of the year.
Into a nine-mile an hour wind, ECU punter Matt Dodge drilled a 68-yard punt, beginning the UK drive at its own five, the second longest punt in Liberty Bowl history.
On a fourth and 10 from UK's 38-yard line, the Wildcat defense held with 33 second left in the half, as ECU tried three consecutive deep attempted touchdown throws, with Trevard Lindley and Robbie McAtee on the coverage, with Lindley breaking up the fourth-down play.
Third Quarter Notes
On the opening kickoff of the third quarter, cornerback David Jones gave UK some immediate momentum, breaking a Liberty Bowl record by running the kick back 99 yards for a touchdown, making it 16-9 after East Carolina blocked the PAT. It was the first career touchdown return for Jones.
UK forced a three and out on ECU's opening possession, as Calvin Harrison broke up the third down pass play, his second breakup of the game.
On the first down after the forced punt, Eric Adeyemi hooked up with Mike Hartline for an 18-yard pass play, a new career long catch for the true freshman wide receiver.
Tim Masthay booted a punt 49 yards after ECU forced a punt, pinning the Pirates down at its two-yard line.
UK immediately forced a three and out, and Gene McCaskill returned the ECU punt 14 yards to the Pirates 26-yard line.
On a third and three from the ECU 19, Mike Hartline hooked up with Kyrus Lanxter on an out route, with Lanxter breaking a tackle and scrambling for his first collegiate touchdown. After Lones Seiber's PAT, the game was even at 16-16 (8:13).
On the next ECU possession, UK forced a three and out, but a roughing the kicker penalty on Matt Roark gave the Pirates a first down.
UK immediately forced another ECU three and out, as Corey Peters forced an errant throw from Patrick Pinkney on third down.
On a first down play, UK attempted a flea flicker and Hartline was intercepted, his only pick of the game.
ECU capitalized on the interception, as Ben Hartman drilled a field goal from 43 out, giving ECU a 19-16 lead (00:06).
To conclude the third quarter, John Conner returned a squib kick 17 yards, giving UK first down from its own 46.
Fourth Quarter Notes
To begin the fourth quarter, UK ran a well-timed pitch to Alfonso Smith around the end for a career long 38-yard rush, giving UK a first down at the 16.
Lones Seiber tied the game at 19-19 with a 34-yard field goal (14:07).
After a kickoff from Tim Masthay, freshman linebacker Ronnie Sneed made an outstanding play, breaking up the wall of ECU blockers and making his first tackle of the game, giving ECU the ball at the 16-yard line.
After ECU forced a punt on the next UK possession, Tim Masthay booted a 47-yard punt, giving the Pirates a first down at its own 31-yard line with 10:17 left in the contest.
With 10:09 left Sam Maxwell intercepted a Patrick Pinkney pass, but it was called back after defensive holding on the Wildcats.
On third and three with nine minutes left in the game, UK forced ECU to punt, as Micah Johnson made a tackle on an attempted ECU option play.
Maurice Grinter hooked up with Hartline on a 16-yard catch, down to ECU 48 yard line.
ECU forced the punt, with Tim Masthay booting it 41 yards into the Pirates endzone for a touchback.
Jeremy Jarmon dragged down Patrick Pinkney for a sack of five yards on a second down, forcing a third and 14 from the ECU 16.
Patrick Pinkney connected with Davon Drew on a 40-yard pass play to give ECU a first down on a third and 14, giving the Pirates the ball down on the UK 44.
On the following play, Johnny Williams and Myron Pryor stopped up a Norman Whitley rush for a loss of three yards, forcing a fumble that Ventrell Jenkins scooped up and ran for a 56-yard touchdown, giving UK a 25-19 lead after Lones Seiber had his PAT blocked (3:02). The return marked the second longest fumble recovery for a touchdown in Liberty Bowl history.
On the kickoff, ECU returner J.R. Rogers fielded the kick at the one-yard line and unknowingly took a knee, giving ECU the ball at the one yard-line with 3:00 left.
After a quick ECU first down on its first play of the drive, Randall Burden broke up a pass on first down, his first breakup of the game, with 2:52 left.
Burden followed on the next play, breaking up another attempted slant route and forcing a third and 10.
ECU attempted to run a fly route down its sideline, but David Jones had the coverage, setting up a fourth and 12 with 2:44 left.
On a third and short with 2:34 left, Tony Dixon picked up the first down with a two-yard run.
Another Dixon first-down run, stopped with 21 seconds left, clinched the game for UK , giving the Wildcats the school-record third consecutive bowl win.
Team Game Notes
When David Jones returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown, it marked the first time in school history that two Wildcats returned a kickoff for a TD in the same season. Derrick Locke had a 100-yard TD return vs. Western Kentucky .
The Kentucky defense had several highlights:
UK held East Carolina to 3-of-15 on third downs.
UK held ECU to only three points in the second half.
The UK defense scored the game-winning touchdown.
UK had a season-high seven pass breakups.
Kentucky wore blue pants and white jerseys for the first time since the 2002 season and for the first time in the Coach Rich Brooks era.
Coach Rich Brooks got his 32nd victory as head coach of the Wildcats, tying Harry Gamage for fifth place on the UK career win list.
Brooks has a 4-3 career record in bowl games, including 3-0 at Kentucky .
Senior defensive end Ventrell Jenkins was selected the Most Valuable Player of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, highlighted by his 56-yard fumble return for the game-winning touchdown. Jenkins also had four tackles and was credited with a blocked extra point.
Sophomore quarterback Mike Hartline was Kentucky 's Offensive Most Valuable Player. He completed 19 of 31 passes for 204 yards and one touchdown.
Senior linebacker Braxton Kelley was Kentucky 's Most Valuable Defensive Player. He had a team-high eight tackles, including one quarterback sack and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Kelley finished his career with 25 consecutive games with at least three tackles. He had 287 stops in his Wildcat career.
Senior running back Tony Dixon had a career-high 28 carries for a season-high 89 yards. He also ran out the clock with six consecutive rushing plays, earning two first downs to clinch the victory.
Dixon finished his career with 1,388 rushing yards, moving him past Randy Brooks and Alfred Rawls for 18 th place on the UK career rushing list.
Sophomore wide receiver Kyrus Lanxter had career highs with five catches for 46 yards and his first Wildcat touchdown.
Freshman wide receiver Gene McCaskill set career highs with three catches for 64 yards, including a UK-best 48-yard play. He also handled punt returns for the first time as a Wildcat, returning three for 19 yards.
Lones Seiber made goals of 21 and 34 yards. He now has 38 field goals as a Wildcat, moving past Taylor Begley for second place on the UK career field-goal list. He also made one PAT kick, giving him 118 in his career and tying him with Begley for second place in UK history.
Junior defensive end Jeremy Jarmon had one quarterback sack, giving him 17.5 sacks in his career and moving him Chris Ward and Dean Wells for third place on the UK career sack list.
Senior defensive tackle Myron Pryor played his final game with a career-high seven tackles, including one tackle for loss, caused the fumble that Ventrell Jenkins returned for the game-winning touchdown, and had a pass breakup.
Tim Masthay finished his career with a school-record 50 games played. The old record was 48 games played by Jacob Tamme and Roger Williams. Masthay had a solid performance in his final game as a Wildcat, averaging 44.6 yards on five punts and nailing three touchbacks on kickoffs.
Twenty-one Wildcats played their final game at Kentucky , including 16 seniors and five juniors who are giving up their final year of eligibility.
UK Bowl Records
Kentucky made two field goals, tying the record of two set in the 1984 Hall of Fame Bowl, 1993 Peach Bowl and 1999 Music City Bowl.