LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Lynn Bowden Jr. rushed for 114 yards, but the Kentucky quarterback was stopped on a fourth-and-goal inside the final two minutes of the game as Kentucky fell to Tennessee 17-13 on Saturday night at Kroger Field.
Christopher Rodriguez Jr. had a career-high 81 yards rushing, as the Cats ran for 302 yards in the game. But the Cats could not get much done through the air, as Bowden completed just four passes for 25 yards. Conversely, Tennessee had 213 yards passing and just 83 yards on the ground.
Kentucky (4-5, 2-5 SEC) took the opening kickoff and marched down the field on the legs of Bowden and Asim Rose. The Cats used 17 plays to cover 75 yards, eventually punching it in on a two-yard rush from Rose to break the ice. Chance Poore’s extra point was good, and the Cats grabbed a 7-0 lead with 4:42 left in the first quarter. On the drive, Bowden carried seven times for 42 yards, while Rose rushed six times for 12 yards. The drive took 10:18, which was the longest drive for Kentucky all season.
Tennessee’s first possession was a three-and-out, then on fourth down, UT punter Paxton Brooks dropped the snap and eventually had his punt blocked by UK’s Josh Paschal. Kentucky’s Drew Schlegel recovered, and the Cats were again in business.
Kentucky took over on the Tennessee 24, and needed only two plays to score again. This time, it was Kavosiey Smoke rushing it in from 22 yards out to extend the lead. Poore’s PAT was blocked and the Cats held a 13-0 advantage with 2:28 left in the first period.
Tennessee (5-5, 3-3) got on the board in the second quarter after an 11-play, 71-yard drive, culminating with a 26-yard field goal from Brent Cimaglia, cutting the UK lead to 13-3 with 9:19 left in the first half.
Neither team would score for the remainder of the half and the Cats would take a 13-3 lead into the break.
In the second half, Tennessee took the opening kickoff and, as Kentucky did in the first half, marched 75 yards for a touchdown. For the Vols, it was backup quarterback Jarrett Guarantano connecting with Marquez Calloway on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 12:03 left in the third quarter. Cimaglia’s PAT was good and Kentucky’s lead was cut to 13-10.
After Kentucky was forced to punt on its next possession, the Vols put together another scoring drive, this one covering 68 yards in seven plays and ending with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Guarantano to Josh Palmer. Cimaglia’s point after was good, and the Vols led 17-13 with 6:28 to play in the third quarter. That would be the score after three periods.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Tennessee had possession near midfield when Kentucky’s Marquan McCall recovered a Tennessee fumble at the UT 45. From there, the Cats drove inside the UT 10, eventually getting to the UT one yard line. But on third down, Rodriguez rushed for a one-yard loss. Then on fourth down, Bowden ran around right end but was held out of the end zone, and UT took over at the two yard line with 1:17 left. From there, the Vols would run out the clock.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday, visiting Nashville to face Vanderbilt. Kickoff is set for 3:30 and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.