KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tyler Bray threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns as Tennessee extended its winning streak over Kentucky to 26 straight games to become bowl eligible with a 24-14 victory on Saturday.
After losing four games in October, the Vols (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) were perfect in their four November games. They also upheld the longest active streak in a series between two FBS teams, one that’s survived 10 coaches on the two teams and is older than any player on either team’s roster.
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Denarius Moore caught one of Bray’s touchdown passes and had 205 yards receiving to become the only Vols receiver in history to have more than 200 yards receiving in two games in either a season or career. Moore had 228 yards in an Oct. 30 loss to South Carolina.
Kentucky (6-6, 2-6) tied the game at 14 with 10:10 left in the third quarter when Mike Hartline hit Tyler Robinson on a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-1. The Wildcats got the ball back on the next drive when Bray threw one of his two interceptions in the game to Mychal Bailey in the Kentucky end zone.
They couldn’t capitalize, and Tennessee drove 73 yards and got a 2-yard touchdown run by Tauren Poole on the next drive to ultimately take the lead. Daniel Lincoln kicked a 36-yard field goal with 9:19 in the fourth quarter to pad the lead.
Hartline struggled to connect with his receivers late but finished 31 of 44 for 272 yards, the touchdown and an interception. Randall Cobb had 13 catches for 116 yards but did not score a touchdown for the first game all season. Derrick Locke ran 24 times for 97 yards.
Kentucky appeared poised to take a 14-point lead early in the second half after putting together a 16-play, 78-yard drive, but Locke fumbled at the Vols 1 and Tennessee’s Nick Reveiz recovered in the end zone.
Tennessee abandoned the run game that had failed to gain any yards against a usually inept Wildcats run defense. After Reveiz’ recovery, Bray completed four passes, including a 44-yard pass to Moore and an 11-yard touchdown toss to Gerald Jones to tie the game at 7 with 13:53 in the second quarter.
Kentucky only picked up one first down on the next drive before it was forced to punt. Tennessee had only two plays on the next drive, a 49-yard pass from Bray to Moore and a 12-yard touchdown toss between the pair to give the Vols a 14-7 lead with 10:50 in the second quarter.