published Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Kentucky stuns Tennessee to snap 26-year losing streak

LEXINGTON, Ky. — One streak continued Saturday afternoon at Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium.

It certainly wasn’t the one anyone — especially the Tennessee Volunteers — was expecting.

With a wide receiver playing quarterback, the Wildcats ended a 26-year losing streak to the Vols with a surprising 10-7 win that will keep UT home for the bowl season and in the cellar of the Southeastern Conference’s East Division.

“What an amazing game,” Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. “Who would pick out Matt Roark as the [quarterback] who broke the streak?”

It’s the first time that Tennessee has lost seven SEC games in a football season. The Vols will miss a bowl game for the second time in four seasons and finish with a losing record for the fourth time in the last seven years.

All of second-year UT coach Derek Dooley’s 14 losses UT have come with the Vols tied or trailing at the half, but this was the most inexplicable.

“Real bad ending to a real bad season, and it’s hard to really say much more than that,” Dooley said somberly. “Give Kentucky a lot of credit. They played a lot more inspired football than we did. Now we’ve got to begin our climb up, because I do believe at some point we were going to hit a place that wasn’t good, and we were kind of headed in this direction all along.

“We just couldn’t fight our way out of it. Real disappointing, but we’re going to have to learn from it and we’re going to have to begin our climb in the offseason when we get back.”

Kentucky entered the game with both quarterbacks who have started games this season, Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith, questionable.

“We thought they might start out in a wildcat, but didn’t know it was going to be the whole game,” Dooley said. “We had to sit there and basically play wing-T football.”

Roark, a 6-foot-5 senior, hadn’t played quarterback since his time at North Cobb High School in Acworth, Ga. The Wildcats turned back the clock with Roark running the offense, mixing in speed option plays with zone reads, quarterback sweeps, draws and bootlegs. Kentucky put together only two sustained drives, but that’s all it needed.

“He looked like he did in high school,” Phillips said. “That’s exactly what he looked like. Somebody said coming out we are either the smartest or the dumbest coaching staff for putting him back there. He did an amazing job.”

Roark completed four of his six passes for only 15 yards, but he ran 24 times for 124 yards, including a crucial 26-yard scamper on third-and-12 from the UT 33 on the third quarter’s last play. UT linebacker Austin Johnson appeared to strip Roark, and Ben Martin recovered the ball for the Vols. The officials ruled on the field that the play was not a fumble.

Dooley challenged the call, but the replay official upheld it.

“I thought the ball was out and we recovered it,” Dooley said. “I guess they ... I don’t know. I challenged it and I said the ball was out, and they ruled that the ball wasn’t out and they didn’t overturn it. I don’t know. They don’t really give you an explanation when they don’t overturn it.”

Two plays later, CoShik Williams, who chipped in 68 yards on 21 carries, scored from 6 yards out.

When UT quarterback Tyler Bray hit Rajion Neal for a 53-yard score on the third play of the ensuing drive and nearly 13 minutes remaining, the noisy Commonwealth Stadium crowd got quieter, almost as if it was preparing for a similar script to the previous 26 meetings.

Kentucky’s defense bowed its collective neck as it had done all day, though. The Wildcats forced two three-and-outs, and Taiedo Smith sealed the win by intercepting Bray’s desperation fourth-down pass with 1:27 on the clock and the Vols out of timeouts.

“It’s embarrassing,” Bray said. “I don’t know how many years it’s been, but it’s been a lot. To be the team that finally breaks [the streak] is really embarrassing.”

Bray, who Dooley said was sick nearly all week, completed just 15 of his 38 passes for 215 yards. Kentucky linebacker Ronnie Sneed picked him off in the first half.

Neal had 125 yards receiving on four catches, but he had a fast snap in the wildcat formation go through his hands two plays after a 44-yard catch had given UT the ball at the Kentucky 8.

“There’s a lot of ways you can look at it,” Dooley said, summing up his team’s failed chance to go bowling. “Sometimes you don’t get always what you want, but a lot of times you get what you deserve. We’re not a good football team. We’ve got a lot of work that we need to do to be a good football team. We need to go to work at that.

“Going to a bowl will make you think you better than you are. [It] probably wouldn’t have helped us, when I look at it. We need to know that there’s a lot of things you have to do to be a good player,W and there’s a lot of things you have to do to be a good team, and we aren’t doing what we need to do, so we don’t deserve to get rewarded. That’s just how it is.”

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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dude_abides said...

Thanks for trying, Derek, goodbye.

November 26, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.
cheesy_rider said...

Double facepalm.

November 26, 2011 at 7:47 p.m.
Salsa said...

He has a 6 year contract. He won't be gone just quite yet.

November 26, 2011 at 7:51 p.m.
joepulitzer said...


November 26, 2011 at 8 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Help me understand why it is a GOOD thing that all these players that are 1-8 in their last SEC games are coming back next year is a good thing ?. . . . . Wow it is really great that Dooley is coming back. . .

November 26, 2011 at 9:10 p.m.
johnnyhurst said...

When I die let the Tennessee Volunteers carry my casket......... So they can let me down one last time.

November 26, 2011 at 9:23 p.m.
jomo11 said...

UTK football is just not very relevant on the national scene anymore. . . . . Don't you think that those 1998 liscense plates that say UTK National Football Champions are kind of like Ford Motor Company saying "we have automatic transmission" ?

November 26, 2011 at 9:38 p.m.
dude_abides said...

jomo11... is your name pronounced with a soft J, like hispanics pronounce Jesus?

November 26, 2011 at 9:48 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Dude_abides. You must really be proud of those VOLS. . . . They actually beat Vandy ! What a great win.. . . Man what a great year for the VOLS. . . . Just think how good they will be next year ! The VOLS might even win 2 SEC games ! WOW

November 26, 2011 at 9:59 p.m.
rosebud said...

Thank you Kentucky Wildcats for doing the college football nation a great favor: we won't have to endure the undeserving Tennessee Vols in a bowl game.

November 26, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.
johnnyhurst said...

You give a man parts for a Chevette and expect a Corvette when he gets the piece of crap put together. Come on.....

November 26, 2011 at 10:15 p.m.
dude_abides said...

With a name like jomo, you must be a Penn State fan.

November 26, 2011 at 10:53 p.m.
flith said...

At least UTK can rely on its reputation as a top notch university, since sports are working any more. Hahahaha

November 27, 2011 at 4:51 a.m.
Ozzy87 said...

Basking in joyfull bliss at Vol's misery.

November 27, 2011 at 10:51 a.m.
dude_abides said...

...since sports are working anymore.(?) is that English?

November 27, 2011 at 12:32 p.m.
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