Wildcats win Border battle over Tennessee, 34-7
Kentucky snaps 17 game losing streak inside Neyland Stadium
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee, looking to bounce back from last week’s loss at Georgia came out clad in all orange for their annual border battle with Kentucky. The Vols would take their opening kickoff and with a good mix of running and passing would move into Wildcat territory. The drive would halt however on a third and long when quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was sacked by Kentucky’s Jamar Watson. The Vols were forced to punt with Kentucky starting drive number two from their own 20 yard line.
On Kentucky’s second possession the Vols would come up with a much desired turnover. After a pass completion from terry Wilson to Josh Ali, UT defensive back Bryce Thompson would strip the ball from Ali setting up the Vols in Wildcat Territory. Faced with a 4th and 3 at the Kentucky 38, Coach Pruitt decides to go for it and the Vols would convert on a Guarantano to Brandon Johnson. But a couple plays later, Guarantano would lose control of the football and the Wildcats would come up with their first turnover of the afternoon ending the Tennessee drive.
So each team commits a turnover in what was a scoreless first quarter. Vols start with the ball in the second quarter, but it’s Kentucky that comes up with the first score. Jarrett Gurantano commits his second turnover of the game after forcing a pass into tight coverage. Kelvin Joseph intercepts his pass and returns it 41 yards for a touchdown. Cats lead the Vols 7-0 with 12:47 to go in the first half.
And the news would not get any better for Guarantano and the Vols offense. On the very next drive, the 5th year senior would commit his third turnover of the game and 6th in two weeks with another interception and once again the Cats return it all the way for a touchdown. Guarantano’s pass is thrown right to #44 Jamin Davis who, flanked by a host of blockers, returns the pick 85 yards for a touchdown. Thanks to two defensive scores, the Cats now lead the 18th ranked Volunteers 14-0 at Neyland Stadium with still over ten minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter.
After that interception, coach Pruitt has decided to make a change at the quarterback position replacing Guarantano with with red-shirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Shrout, but it’s a rough start for him as well. On second and long, Shrout throws deep and is picked off Tyrell Ajian. Again, it’s Kentucky’s third interception of the game and 9th going back to last week’s win over Mississippi State.
Following the Ajian interception, the Wildcats would start their drive at Tennessee 37 yard line putting a lot pressure on the Vols defense. Faced with a third and three at the Vols 12, Trevon Flowers would knock a pass out of the hands of TE Keaton Upshaw. Matt Ruffalo would knock through a short field goal giving the Wildcats a 17-0 lead.
On the ensuring drive, Jarrett Guarantano would return to the game at the quarterback position for Tennessee and immediately the Vols were faced with a 4th and short situation in their own territory. Once again coach Pruitt would go for it and once again the Vols would convert. Thanks to a steady dose of running the Vol would finally find pay dirt. On third and goal at the Kentucky 4, Ty Chandler would muscle his way in for UT’s first points of the game. It was a 14 play 75 yard drive for the Vols, 71 of those yards would come on 12 rushing plays. 17-7 Wildcats with 1:36 to go in the half.
The Vols defense would force Kentucky into a three and out giving the ball back to the offense with a little over a minute to play in the first half. The Vols would start the drive from their own 23 yard line. The Vols would three and out themselves and have to punt the back to the Cats. Kentucky would start that drive from their own 36, but couldn’t do much with it running out the clock. Kentucky, looking for it’s first win at Neyland Stadium since 1984, leads Tennessee 17-7.
The Vols would receive the 2nd half kickoff, but fail to move the football forced to punt it away to Kentucky still trailing the Wildcats by ten points. Kentucky would add to it’s lead thanks to an impressive drive. The Cats would blend the passing of Terry Wilson with the hard running of Christopher Rodriguez to power down inside the Vols 10 yard line. From their it would be Wilson with a one yard TD pass to Allen Dailey Jr. Point after is good and it’s Kentucky in control at Neyland Stadium, 24-7 with 7:24 to go in the 3rd quarter.
A stagnant and ineffective Tennessee offense would stall once again forcing yet another Paxton Brooks punt. Meanwhile, the good fortune would continue for the Wildcats who would mount yet another drive on Derrick Ansley’s defense. The drive would stall and Kentucky would have to settle for a field goal. Matt Ruffalo connects for a second time, this one from 27 yards out as the Cats build their lead to 27-7 late in the third quarter.
Kentucky has flat out been the better football team inside Neyland Stadium today. Hats off to coach Mark Stoops and his staff, who put together a nice game plan and have absolutely frustrated the Vols on both sides of the football. Kentucky’s first drive of the 4th quarter would lead to yet another scoring drive. On 3rd and goal and the UT two yard line, Christopher Rodriguez would barrel his way into the end zone. With the point after, Kentucky’s lead balloons to 34-7 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Tennessee would make another change at quarterback and into the game comes Harrison Bailey. The 5-star freshman would lead the offense down the field, but a 4th down pass into the end zone would fall incomplete keeping the score at 34-7 Wildcats. Kentucky goes on to win by that score, the largest margin of victory for the Cats over the Vols since 1935. The Wildcats do indeed snap that 17 game losing streak to the Big Orange in Knoxville.
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