The Vols (4-4, 2-3 SEC) got a 75-yard touchdown pass from Joshua Dobbs to Josh Malone on their first play after falling behind 14-10 with 5:39 remaining in the half. A defensive stop and a 63-yard run by Alvin Kamara then set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Dobbs with 40 seconds remaining to send UK into a massive tailspin at the break.
Kentucky (4-4, 2-4 SEC) fell behind 31-14 just moments into the third quarter on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs to Jalen Hurd, and the Vols never looked back. Tennessee added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Evan Berry and an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown by Cameron Sutton to underscore the all-phases beating it inflicted on the Wildcats.
"I thought it was a very complete game," Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said. "We challenged our football team all week long. This has to be a game of complementary football. We had to play complementary football and really complement each other in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams."
"It was not very good football," said Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, whose team dropped its third straight game after starting the season 4-1. "It's not acceptable. It's not OK... Give (UT) credit. They beat our butts in all phases. They were much more physical than us. We've got to play with a lot stronger attitude and mentality than that."
Much like Mississippi State's Dak Prescott did a week ago, the dual-threat Dobbs powered a Tennessee offensive attack that rolled up 482 total yards. Dobbs passed for 233 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 51 yards and a pair of scores.
Aside from a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown by defensive lineman Cory Johnson to give Kentucky a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the lone bright spot for the Cats was a career-high 109-yard rushing effort by sophomore running back Mikel Horton. But even that came with bad news. Horton got the bulk of the second-half carries after starter Stanley "Boom" Williams suffered what appeared to be a serious elbow injury late in the second quarter.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap," we touch on the highlights from the game...
WHAT WENT WRONG:
It would be much easier to summarize the things that went right on this kind of night. Alas, Kentucky surrendered almost 500 yards, recorded only 349 of its own, gave up 199 yards in returns, committed two turnovers and was flagged for 93 yards in penalties. That's an all-systems meltdown.
Last week, Kentucky trailed Mississippi State by only four points with under two minutes left in the first half before the Bulldogs scored a pair of touchdowns to take an 18-point lead in the blink of an eye. Eerily, the same thing unfolded on Halloween night. Kentucky's momentum from taking a 14-10 lead on Patrick Towles' fourth-down keeper with 5:39 to go was erased in just seconds as the Wildcats missed an opportunity to sack UT's Dobbs, who stepped up in the pocket and delivered a perfect deep ball to Malone. That touched off an avalanche of "Rocky Top" over the next 10 minutes of game time that left UK staring at a 17-point deficit. The Cats never recovered and turned a pedestrian loss into a beatdown by failing to cover on special teams.
BY THE NUMBERS:
1st - Kentucky touchdown pass in more than 10 quarters dating back to the end of the EKU game when Towles found Garrett Johnson on a 39-yard strike in the third quarter.
2 - Third-down conversions for UK on 13 attempts.
2 - Times this season the Vols have had a kickoff return and punt return for TDs in the same game.
5 - Kickoff or punt returns for the Vols this season. Berry tied UT legend Willie Gault's single-season record (1980) with his third kickoff return for a score.
7 - Average yards per play by UT.
102 - Points UK has surrendered to unranked UT in the last two meetings.
"Offense, defense, special teams." - UK head coach Mark Stoops when asked what bothered him most about the loss.
Kentucky hits the road for Athens, Ga., next week to face the Bulldogs. Georgia (5-3) is coming off a 27-3 loss to Florida in Jacksonville.