Kentucky Comes Up Short In 17-13 Loss To Tennessee
Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden was tackled for no gain on fourth-and-goal at the 2 with 1:17 remaining, the last of Kentucky's three failed fourth-down attempts after halftime as the Wildcats fell to the Volunteers 17-13 in chilly Kroger Field.
"An extremely disappointing loss," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "It comes down to a goal-line stand. Our players fought extremely hard. You come up a yard short and it's a very, very difficult, tough pill to swallow."
Tennessee was outgained 327-296 but topped Kentucky 160-129 in the second half to win for the fourth time in five games and reach .500. The Vols are within a win of bowl eligibility after missing the postseason last year.
The Wildcats (4-5, 2-5 SEC) took the initial lead with touchdown runs by A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke of 2 and 22 yards respectively but were shut out after that. A missed extra point on Smoke's TD loomed large, forcing Kentucky to go for a touchdown late instead of possible tying field goal.
Kentucky drove deep into Tennessee territory in the second quarter before Vols cornerback Nigel Warrior intercepted Bowden and returned it 24 yards. The Vols punted, but there went the Wildcats' opportunity to pad their lead.
Their final drive ended with Bowden wrapped up by Daniel Bituli (19 tackles) as he rolled right with running back Christopher Rodriguez trailing for a possible pitch.
"Coach wanted to put it in my hands and have the option to pitch it or turn the corner," said Bowden, who rushed 26 times for 114 yards. "I thought I had a seam if I take one less step and hit it then. I put that on me."
Kentucky: After opening the game with a clock-chewing, 75-yard TD drive of 10:18 and getting another TD off a blocked punt, the Wildcats stalled offensively. They also failed to slow the Vols, falling under .500 and adding urgency to their quest for bowl eligibility.
Kentucky faces a must-win road trip to Vanderbilt (2-7) Saturday. The Commodores were pummeled by Florida 56-0, ending any hopes of a post-season bowl berth.