Defense, Roark Propel Kentucky to 10-7 Win over Tennessee
Roark rushes 24 times for 124 yards; Guy tallies 14 tackles
Ky. (AP) - Coshik Williams ran for a touchdown and senior wide receiver
Matt Roark filled in at quarterback with 124 yards on 24 carries as
Kentucky snapped a 26-game losing streak to Tennessee with a 10-7
victory on Saturday.
The win capped a disappointing season for
the Wildcats (5-7, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) and kept Tennessee
(5-7, 1-7) from reaching bowl eligibility with representatives from the
Liberty Bowl on hand.
Logic-defying streak ends in fittingly unique fashion
It wasn't supposed to happen this year, but it did
VIDEO: Coaches, players on historic win over Tennessee
Letter to the Big Blue Nation
Kentucky's game plan was clear from the start to win for the first time in the series since 1984.
Wildcats weren't going to be able to throw much with Roark, but instead
tried to run misdirection plays and catch Tennessee off-guard while
relying on their improving defense.
Roark led two scoring drives and Kentucky forced three turnovers, including a key one in a goal-line stand in the third quarter.
had talked earlier in the week about needing to find a job after he
graduated in May, but he left a strong impression in his final
appearance at Commonwealth Stadium with injured quarterbacks Maxwell
Smith (right shoulder) and Morgan Newton (right ankle, right shoulder)
watching from the sideline.
Kentucky wore its black jerseys for
the second time this season at the request of its 21 seniors and, on
the first possession, Roark led Kentucky on a 15-play drive that lasted
nearly eight minutes before it stalled at the Tennessee 7 and forced
Craig McIntosh's 24-yard field goal. That would stay the only score
until the fourth quarter, when Williams scored from the 6 to give
Kentucky a 10-0 lead.
Tennessee had plenty of chances late, but committed three turnovers in the second half.
Ronnie Sneed intercepted Tyler Bray's pass at the Tennessee 34. But,
with Kentucky seemingly stalled, it appeared to be only a matter of
time before Tennessee's offense engaged. It happened when Bray found
Rajion Neal behind cornerback Randall Burden for a 44-yard gain that
set up first-and-goal on the 8.
But Neal failed to handle the
snap out of a wildcat formation two plays later, and Collins Ukwu
recovered the fumble for Kentucky before Roark restarted the offense.
he got linebacker A.J. Johnson to turn his back for a 24-yard gain into
Tennessee territory. Roark made another key play a few minutes later,
splitting the defense and breaking two tackles on a third-and-12 to
gain 26 yards down to the Tennessee 7. Williams, who finished with 68
yards, scored two plays later on a 6-yard run that made it 10-0 with
Tennessee struck right back when Bray found Neal on
the post again against Burden for a 53-yard score that cut it to 10-7
with 12:52 left. Tennessee had three chances late, but Bray failed to
move the offense beyond one first down and on fourth-and-17. Taiedo
Smith intercepted Bray's pass to seal it.
Roark finished 4 of 6 for 15 yards passing.
wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers caught two passes for 38 yards to boost
his SEC-leading totals to 67 receptions for 1,040 yards, but Bray
looked rusty in his second game back after missing five with a broken
right thumb. He finished 15 of 38 for 215 yards.
The Vols last
lost on the road to Kentucky in 1981 and, coupled with their 6-7 finish
last year, have ended seasons with consecutive losing records for the
first time since 1910-11.
They'll have a long offseason to think
about this one by failing to topple a Wildcats team that had been in
turmoil all week with rumors that coach Joker Phillips might not return
for a third season.
Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart
said on the school's pregame show that nothing changed from when he
publicly supported Phillips in October.
Phillips is 11-14 and
4-12 in SEC play over his first two seasons while the program won't go
to a bowl for the first time in five years. Instead, the coach got a
victory bath from a sideline water cooler all the same and fans rushed