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Vols take down Kentucky 37-17

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The University of Tennessee Athletic Department

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee avoided going winless in SEC play for the first time ever by notching a 37-17 victory over Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.

Tennessee's offense, the brightest spot in an otherwise difficult season, again led the way behind quarterback Tyler Bray and a slew of skill players.

Tight end Mychal Rivera and receivers Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter and Zach Rogers all caught touchdown passes in the final game of Tennessee's 5-7 season.

Rivera and Patterson helped break the game open with third-quarter touchdowns, turning a three-point lead into a comfortable margin down the stretch.

Rivera's 29-yard grab ended a 61-yard drive that gave UT a 27-17 lead after the Wildcats (2-10, 0-8 SEC) began the second half with a 7 1/2-minute drive that ended in a field goal.

Patterson's 21-yard catch gave the Vols a 34-17 lead, and Kentucky never got any closer the rest of the way.

The Vols (5-7, 1-7) opened with an 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 21-yard pass from Bray to Rogers barely more than 2 minutes into the game.

Kentucky answered right back, converting twice on third down, including a 29-yard pass to Jonathan George on third-and-1 that set up a 1-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Warren three plays later.

Kentucky tried to catch the Vols off guard on the ensuing kickoff, but Jacob Carter fielded a short kick and returned it 15 yards to the Kentucky 38.

Four plays later, linebacker A.J. Johnson scored his team-leading sixth rushing touchdown to give UT a 14-7 lead 6:01 to go in the first quarter.

The Vols added to that lead on a 42-yard catch and run by Hunter, who finished with three catches for 65 yards on Saturday. Those three receptions left him four short of Marcus Nash's single-season record of 76, set in 1997.

Kentucky's offense came to life in the second quarter and had a chance to take a lead just before halftime.

After Hunter's touchdown catch, the Wildcats marched to midfield before George broke a career-long 45-yard touchdown run to cut UT's lead to 20-14 with 10:18 left before halftime.

After forcing the Vols to punt on back-to-back possessions, Kentucky moved the ball all the way to the UT 14-yard line with a little more than a minute to go.

But Johnson, the Vols' leading tackler, recorded his first career sack on first down to back UK up to the 24-yard line with 29 seconds to go.

Craig McIntosh missed a 36-yard field goal attempt with 16 seconds to go before halftime, allowing the Vols to hold onto a six-point lead.

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