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Bray leads Vols to 37-17 victory over Kentucky

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tyler Bray threw four touchdown passes without an interception Saturday as Tennessee defeated Kentucky 37-17 to assure that the Volunteers wouldn’t go winless in Southeastern Conference competition for the first time in school history.

Bray went 20-of-34 for 293 yards Saturday and threw touchdown passes to four different receivers. He passed for 3,612 yards and 34 touchdowns this season, the second-highest yearly total by any Tennessee quarterback in either category. Peyton Manning threw for 3,819 yards and 26 touchdowns in 1997.

This season finale between two of the SEC’s worst teams pitted a lame-duck coach against an interim head coach. The game drew an announced crowd of 81,841 at Neyland Stadium, though it appeared there weren’t more than 60,000 fans actually in attendance.

Kentucky’s Joker Phillips finished his three-year tenure as Kentucky’s coach with a 13-24 record after being told Nov. 4 that he wouldn’t return next season. One of his biggest highlights was a 10-7 victory over Tennessee last year that ended the Vols’ 26-game winning streak in this annual series. Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney served as the Vols’ interim coach in place of Derek Dooley, who was fired Sunday after going 15-21 in three seasons.

The game featured enough mistakes to make it clear why both teams are seeking new coaches.

A holding penalty on Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson nullified a 33-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Bray to Justin Hunter. Tennessee (5-7, 1-7 SEC) had to call a timeout after its defense had just 10 players on the field at one point in the second quarter. Kentucky’s Raymond Sanders slipped in the backfield and was stopped for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-inches from the Tennessee 39 late in the first half.

Tennessee’s Michael Palardy had an extra-point attempt blocked, the fifth time Tennessee has missed a PAT this season. Kentucky’s Craig McIntosh was wide left on a 36-yard field goal just before halftime.

Bray threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Zach Rogers and a 42-yarder to Hunter in the first half to help the Vols grab a 20-7 advantage. After Jonathan George’s 45-yard touchdown run and Craig McIntosh’s 29-yard field goal cut the lead to 20-17, Bray answered with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Mychal Rivera and a 21-yarder to Cordarrelle Patterson in the third quarter.

Bray, Hunter and Patterson now must decide whether to return to school for their senior seasons or enter the NFL Draft. All three are projected to get taken in the first two rounds if they choose to turn pro.

Missed opportunities haunted the Wildcats for much of the day.

Kentucky (2-10, 0-8) drove inside the Tennessee 40 on each of its next three possessions after George’s touchdown, but the Wildcats scored a total of three points during that stretch. Kentucky failed to convert on fourth-and-inches from the Tennessee 39 and missed a 36-yard field goal on their final two possessions of the second quarter. The Wildcats kept the ball for 7 ¬Ω minutes on the opening possession of the second half, but they settled for McIntosh’s field goal after having second-and-goal at the 4.

After working from the press box as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator for the first 11 games of the season, Chaney worked from the sidelines Saturday as interim head coach. Tennessee was using an interim coach for the first time since Phillip Fulmer coached the first three games of the 1992 season as Johnny Majors recovered from heart surgery.

The season-ending victory provided some small measure of comfort for Tennessee in an otherwise disappointing year.

Tennessee recorded its third straight losing season, the first time the Vols have finished below .500 in three consecutive years since 1909-11. Tennessee also will not be playing in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since being left out four consecutive years from 1975-78.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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  1. UK 24 7

    Finally closure!

  2. john l

    I am so happy this misserable excuse of a football program is over.Hopefully Mitch will find someone who can put a competitive product on the field.However,judging from his comments today,it may be a while before the next hire is made.

    1. RJ

      I wouldn’t hold my breath. Usually the Head Coach applicants make their own noise, self serving to be sure, and start rumors. The quietness from the coaching community is defening.

  3. Ron Sageser

    maby we should tell barnhart that if he gets another coach that he has to fire , he should go too. WE WANT A WINNING COACH, NOW. NO MORE DAMMED EXCUSES

  4. Andy S

    The 4th and inches calls were head scratchers. On both attempts, UK should have just muscled in for it on inches behind larry warford. Instead we pitch it back and the linebackers were waiting for Sanders. That was def some dumb playcalling there and thank goodness its over so we won’t have to witness play calling like that again.

  5. RJ

    I went to the game (only three hours away). Tickets were plentiful and cheap. Stadium that holds 100K people was, relatively speaking, as empty the UK – Vandy game. What a depressing afternoon. On side kick in the first quarter?????????????? I didn’t take my UK hat off but the fans that were there had a good laugh on that one.

    When you get beat by the worst defensive team in the SEC by 2 : 1, it demonstrates just how bad this team and staff really is.

    And a side note: Patrick Towles is either verrrrry not ready to play college football or he is simply not as good as his press clippings. Not very impressive at all.

    1. john l

      I’m inclined to believe this staff was lacking in a lot of ways.And you have to wonder just how much went into preparation for this game.

  6. Georgia Blue

    I am happy the season is over. I pray that Barnhart bring a coach in here that can coach talent up to the competive level. UK has a lot of talent on the team. Its just we need a coach that can exploit that talent like Franklin at Vandy. We have more playmaker than Vandy but look what Franklin has did at Vandy. Vandy is 8-4 and 5-3 in conference games. He is making the players ,booster, community, students, and etc believe in the program and it has paid off. So Barnhardt ask the search committe at Vandy what and how did they hit a homerun in landing Franklin from Maryland.

    1. larryvaught

      With you Georgia Blue. NO reason UK should not have been able to beat Tennessee Saturday. Great comparison with Vandy. Something being done right there

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