Vols Secure Important Win Against Kentucky Wildcats, 49-36
In an SEC East race that just keeps getting crazier and crazier, the Tennessee Volunteers met in a high noon showdown against the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday. The Vols were hoping to eliminate some of the competition that could stand in the way of them traveling to Atlanta in December. The Wildcats, on the other hand, were looking to let everyone know they weren’t a team to just look over anymore. Both teams arrived at Neyland ready for a fight.
The Wildcats started things off with a quick score on their first drive. Maneuvering through the Tennessee defense, Stanley Williams bobbed past and completed a ten yard run to the endzone less than two minutes into the game. With Kentucky gaining a quick lead, the Vols suddenly found out they weren’t just playing kittens, and were going to be playing a full 60 minutes of hard football. It did not take long for the Vols to bring the crowd back into the game. After marching over 80 yards down the field, a 24 yard pass from Josh Dobbs to a patiently waiting Josh Smith put Tennessee on the scoreboard. Aaron Medley’s extra point tied up the game, all in the first three possessions.
The Volunteers defense struggled against the Kentucky offense for the next few drives, but stopped them where it counted – the red zone. The Wildcats regained the lead for a brief time with a 37 yard field goal, but that would be the last time they would have the lead for the rest of the game.
On the next drive, Dobbs put his legs to good use. Finding a hole down the sideline, he scooted 35 yards down the field to about the 1 yard line. It took them a couple tries to get there, but with just over a minute left in the first, Tennessee grabbed the lead once again. The first quarter ended with the Volunteers up 14-10.
Early in the second quarter, the Wildcats made a feeble attempt at trying to catch up, and came close with a field goal, putting them down by only one point. A connection from Josh Dobbs to Ethan Wolfe put a larger gap between the two teams, and produced a momentum from the Vols that Kentucky just could not stop. The half ended with Tennessee ahead of Kentucky 21-13.
The second half started to a tune similar to the first, with Kentucky being the first on the board, this time with another field goal to bring the score 21-16. The Volunteers quickly had an answer for that score, with an exciting 51 yard pass from Dobbs to Malone. Medley was once again on point, and the Volunteers strengthened their lead 28-16. It didn’t take long for Alvin Kamara to join in on the fun. With 3:18 left in the third, he completed a 17 yard run, and ticked the scoreboard up another six.
In the fourth quarter, both Dobbs and Kamara ran to the checkerboard and extended the lead 49-22. The gap did not stop the Wildcats from trying to stage a comeback. Late in the fourth, runningback Sihiem King sneaked in a 24 yard run to bring the lead within 20 points. As Vol fans know, strange things can happen in the last three minutes of the game, and the wildcats just would not go away. After the King score, the wildcats attempted an on-side kick, and succeeded. Just two and a half minutes after the previous score, the Wildcats’ Stephen Johnson scored on a 2 yard run. Fortunately for Tennessee, it was too little too late for the Wildcats, and the Volunteers walked away with an important win 49-36.
The afternoon was productive for both Joshua Dobbs and Alvin Kamara. Dobbs racked up more yards to add to his record breaking season, with 147 yards rushing and 223 yards passing. With two rushing touchdowns and three passing, he brought his total up to 16 for the season. Kamara, who has been out since Ohio, proved why he was one of the crowd favorites, running for 128 yards for the afternoon. John Kelly also proved that he could easily hold his own, running for 94 yards. The trio rushed for 369 of the team’s 376 yards. Receiving the ball was a major factor for the Volunteers. Josh Malone and Ethan Wolf received for a combined 136 yards and 2 of the touchdowns Saturday. On the defensive side of things, Micah Abernathy proved he was a force to be reckoned with, and had a total of 10 tackles for the afternoon, two of which were sacks. Speaking of sacks, Darek Barnett grabbed one, making his total 10 for this year, and 30 for his career. Barnett is only two sacks shy of tying Reggie White’s longstanding record of 32.
The Volunteers are gearing up for their last game at Neyland Saturday, as they play host to MIZZOU. This is going to be yet another must win for the Volunteers, and the kickoff is set for 3:30. CBS will be broadcasting the game.