KNOXVILLE, TN- On a day when both teams ran wild, Kentucky couldn’t quite catch up to Tennessee.
Joshua Dobbs threw touchdown passes to three different receivers and ran for two more scores Saturday as Tennessee defeated Kentucky 49-36 to continue its domination of this annual series.
Dobbs rushed for 147 yards and Alvin Kamara ran for 128 yards to lead Tennessee’s 376-yard rshing attack. Kentucky ran for 443 yards – three yards shy of a 65-year-old single-game school record – but often bogged down in the red zone.
“It’s fun with two teams that have good running games just going back and forth,” Kamara said. “It’s kind of like a battle royale trying to see who has the better punches.”
Tennessee (7-3, 3-3 SEC) has won 31 of its last 32 matchups against the Wildcats, with the lone Kentucky win coming in 2011. Kentucky (5-5, 4-4) hasn’t beaten Tennessee in Knoxville since 1984.
Dobbs went 11 of 17 for 223 yards with touchdown passes to Josh Smith and Ethan Wolf as well as a 51-yarder to Josh Malone on a flea flicker. Dobbs also had his highest rushing total of the season.
“He’s like a tight end playing quarterback,” Kentucky linebacker Denzil Ware said. “It’s hard to get him down, and when he gets in the zone, you basically can’t stop the man.”
Tennessee averaged 9.2 yards per carry against a Kentucky defense that lost leading tackler Jordan Jones to back spasms in the first half and had several other players hurt over the course of the game. John Kelly rushed for 94 yards to complement Dobbs and Kamara, who wore a knee brace while returning from an injury that sidelined him for two games.
The Vols moved the ball so well that they only faced five third-down situations all day.
“They were making too much hay on first and second down,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
Stanley “Boom” Williams ran for 127 yards and Jojo Kemp added 90 yards – including a 71-yard touchdown – as Kentucky averaged 8.1 yards per carry to threaten the school single-game record of 446 yards rushing, set in 1951 against Tennessee Tech. Kentucky’s 443-yard output was the third-highest rushing total ever allowed by Tennessee.
“It’s definitely unacceptable,” Tennessee defensive end LaTroy Lewis said. “That would never be tolerated. It wouldn’t be tolerated at Tennessee in the `70’s, 80’s, 90’s and it’s not tolerated now.”
But the Wildcats didn’t run nearly as effectively once they got into scoring position. Kentucky settled for field goals three times after driving inside Tennessee’s 15-yard line and also lost a fumble at the Tennessee 4.
“Obviously when you rush for that many yards, the difference is in the red zone,” Stoops said. “They capped it off with touchdowns. We capped it off with some field goals.”