Dobbs, Neal Lead Vols' Season-Ending 27-14 Win Over Kentucky
Tennessee DL Miller Gets 4.5 Sacks, Breaks Reggie White Record
Saturday, November 30, 2013
- by Special to Chattanoogan.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky was just what the Tennessee Vols needed for a pick-me-up at the end of another disappointing losing season.
Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs passed for two touchdowns and rushed for one to lead the Vols past the Wildcats, 27-14, Saturday night before 54,986 at Commonwealth Stadium.
0001pt;">The win snapped Tennessee’s 11-game SEC road losing streak dating to a 24-10 win over Vanderbilt in 2010.
Tennessee (5-7, 2-6) has won 15 of the last 16 meetings between the two long-time rivals in Lexington since 1983 -- the 28th in 29 games overall -- and now leads the 109-game series 76-24-9.
"We're two instant replays from having a seven-win season," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.
Instead, the Vols finished with their third consecutive 5-7 season and fourth straight losing record – Tennessee is 21-28 over that span.
Dobbs completed 14-of-23 passes for 199 yards and touchdowns of 43 and 7 yards to Jason Croom and Devrin Young, respectively. Dobbs also rushed for a 40-yard second-quarter touchdown – longest scoring run by a Tennessee quarterback since Alan Cockrell went 43 yards against LSU in 1983.
Dobbs, who rushed for 52 yards, rode a stationary bike between offensive possessions with a towel taped to his right knee. It was the most yardage in a game by a Vol quarterback since Tee Martin gained 81 against Syracuse in 1998 – Tennessee’s national championship season.
“Dobbs is a tough individual,” Jones said. “I thought Josh stepped up, especially running the football. It will be a heck of a quarterback battle this spring.”
Said Dobbs, “This win was huge (to win for the seniors). They have been through a lot at the University of Tennessee, so we made it our sole focus to send them out on top.”
Tailback Rajion Neal made an immediate impact on the game, rambling 60 yards on the second play to give the Vols a quick 7-0 lead. Neal finished with 134 yards rushing on 20 carries and became the 14th player in Vol history to crack the 1,000-yard barrier, and the first since 2010.
Neal, who had 91 yards at halftime, ended his Tennessee career with 1,124 yards rushing. He posted seven 100-yard efforts, five this season.
Defensively, senior defensive lineman Corey Miller had 4.5 sacks to break a single-game record of four held by Reggie White and set against The Citadel in 1983.
Kentucky (2-10, 0-8), the only team keeping Tennessee out of the Eastern Division cellar, made the Vols look like an SEC powerhouse in the early portion of the season finale for both teams.
Neal’s quick-strike burst got the Vols on the scoreboard just 24 seconds deep into the opening quarter for a 7-0 lead. It was Tennessee’s longest run from scrimmage since Cordarrelle Patterson’s 67-yard scamper against North Carolina State in the 2012 season opener.
Backed up to its 6, Tennessee drove 94 yards in seven plays and the Vols went up 14-0 when Dobbs launched a bomb that the 6-foot-5-inch Croom battled 6-1 Ashley Lowery for the ball inside the Wildcats’ 10.
The ball twice bounced into the air before Croom grabbed it at the 5 and stepped into the end zone for a stunning 43-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left in the quarter.
It was Dobbs’ first career touchdown pass and the first for the Vols since Justin Worley hit Alton Howard with a 6-yard scoring strike in the second quarter against South Carolina.
Croom later suffered a broken right collarbone when slammed to the turf by defensive back Fred Tiller after a 31-yard reception.
Croom, who had two receptions for 74 yards, was taken to the locker room for an examination and returned to the sidelines in street clothes for the second half with his right arm in a sling.
“He’ll undergo further examination when we get back to Knoxville,” Jones said.
Dobbs added his first rushing touchdown – a 40-yard sprint on an option keeper – to give Tennessee a 20-0 lead with 5:54 left in the first half. Dobbs’ run capped a 98-yard, eight-play drive that ate up 4 minutes, 9 seconds off the clock.
The true freshman from Alpharetta, Ga., who passed for 106 yards and ran for 54 in the first half, was intercepted by Lowery, which was the first pick by a Kentucky defensive back all season and sixth for Dobbs.
Kentucky’s lone first-half score came on a 19-yard pass from Maxwell Smith to Anthony Kendrick with 1:45 left in the second quarter.
What’s the next step for Jones’ Vols?
“We’ll enjoy this one but Monday’s we’re back in the weight room getting ready for next season,” he said. “I want to stay positive and move forward, but it’s expected that we go to bowl games from here on out.”
Smith connected with Javess Blue for the Wildcats’ other score, a 14-yard toss with 3:41 left in the game.
Kentucky sophomore Dyshawn Mobley, who played at Powell (Tenn.) High School, just 11 miles from the Tennessee campus, rushed for 143 yards on 17 carries, including a 53-yarder late in the game. It was Mobley’s first 100-yard effort.
“I love the way he’s playing,” Kentucky coach Bob Stoops said. “He’s got a great passion for the game.
(Quotes were provided by the Tennessee sports information department and posted either on Twitter or the university’s athletic website.)
Tennessee 14 6 7 0 – 27
Kentucky 0 7 0 7 – 14
TEN – Rajion Neal 60 run (Michael Palardy kick), 14:36
TEN – Jason Croom 43 pass from Josh Dobbs (Palardy kick), 0:19
TEN – Dobbs 40 run (kick failed), 5:54
KEN – Anthony Kendrick 19 pass from Maxwell Smith (Joe Mansour kick), 1:45
TEN – Devrin Young 7 pass from Dobbs (Palardy kick), 3:14
KEN – Javess Blue 14 pass from Smith (Mansour kick), 3:41
ATT – 54,986
First Downs 23 23
Rushes-Yards 43-218 33-139
Passing Yards 199 254
Total Plys-Yards 66-417 71-393
Com.-Att.-Int. 13-23-1 25-38-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Punts.-Avg. 6-49.5 7-42.9
Penalties-Yds. 3-35 7-75
RUSHING — Tennessee: Rajion Neal 20-134, Josh Dobbs 7-52, Marlin Lane 11-31, Alton Howard 3-6, Team 2-minus 5; Kentucky: Dyshawn Mobley 17-143, Jojo Kemp 5-22, Jalen Whitlow 1-3, Jonathan George 1-2, Joey Herrick 1-minus 10, Maxwell Smith 8-minus 21.
PASSING — Tennessee: Dobbs 14-13-1-199; Kentucky: Smith 25-38-0-254.
RECEIVING — Tennessee: Jason Croom 2-74, Devrin Young 4-66, Jonathon Johnson 2-35, Howard 2-8, Neal 2-6, Lane 1-5, Brendan Downs 1-5; Kentucky: Jeff Badet 6-47, A.J. Legree 2-46, Javess Blue 3-42, Jordan Aumiller 3-42, Anthony Kendrick 2-21, Tyler Robinson 1-14, Kemp 3-6, Mobley 1-1.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)