Tennessee wins the Bourbon Barrell 45-42.
LEXINGTON – November 6, 2021 – DAVID LEVERIDGE
Kentucky returned to Kroger Field for the first time in nearly a month taking on the Tennessee Vols. Since Kentucky has last played at Kroger Field, a lot has happened. The CATS are now nationally Ranked #18 in the Country, and the program has also reached Bowl Eligibility. Kentucky who began the season 6-0 was looking to bounce back after consecutive losses on the road against Georgia and last week’s disappointing loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Against Tennessee the CATS and Vols played under the Lights at Kroger Field in another primetime matchup and being one of the biggest games in the country.
Kentucky and Tennessee was another exciting game at Kroger Field, who has now hosted 3 primetime matchups. The game saw two explosive offenses on the field and the scoreboard continuing to be lit up with scoring possessions. Statistically Kentucky should not have lost this game as the CATS outgained the Vols by one hundred and ninety- five total yards. Kentucky 612 yards of total offense compared to 491 for Tennessee. Time of Possession Kentucky 46:08 minutes compared to Tennessee 13:52 and a difference in possession of thirty- two minutes favoring Kentucky. Kentucky also had thirty- five first downs compared to seventeen by Tennessee. Kentucky converted on 70 % twelve for seventeen on third down and held Tennessee to 38% three for eight on third down. The Difference in the game was two things. Tennessee offense scored the ball quick with two passing touchdown covering over seventy yards on a single play, and the Levis interception resulting in a pick six. The Tennessee Quarterback Hendon Hooker was phenomenal completing 75% of his passes and four touchdowns with no interceptions and 357 yards of total offense.
First Quarter- The first quarter saw three scoring possessions two by Tennessee one by Kentucky. On the opening drive of the game Tennessee converted on a seventy- five yard passing play From QB Hendon Hooker to JaVonta Payton a scoring drive lasting a total of eleven seconds. Kentucky responded on the next drive when Kavosiey Smoke scored the ball on a nine- yard rushing touchdown, the drive was fourteen play seventy-five-yard drive with a time of possession of 8:36. On the next Tennessee possession the Kentucky defense had Tennessee facing a third and long in Tennessee territory, only to be beat once again with Hooker finding an open receiver down field who got behind the coverage. Tennessee scored on a seventy-two-yard pass from Hooker to Velus Jones Jr. At the end of the first quarter Tennessee led Kentucky 14-7.
Second Quarter- As explosive as both offenses were in the first quarter, the game turned into a high scoring second quarter with a combined three touchdowns and one field goal scored between the two teams. Kentucky was the first to score in the second quarter as Levis scored the ball on an eight-yard QB keeper, hurdling the defensive back before crossing the goal line. The first drive of the quarter also saw Kentucky catching off guard with a flea flicker back to Levis leading to the touchdown. The Kentucky defense came up huge on the next possession forcing a Tennessee fumble and recovered by defensive lineman Fitzgerald. Kentucky had the momentum and for the first time all evening the BBN was on their feet and excited as the Kentucky Rally song Grove Street Party excited the crowd. Kentucky capitalized on the Vols mistake with a Levis Passing Touchdown to Tight End Justin Rigg. Kentucky led Tennessee 20-14 with only 3:57 remained in the half. The Tennessee Offense scored on two possession late in the quarter. The First a passing TD from Hooker to Tight end Jacob Warren and converted the PAT, resulting in a one-point lead. After stopping UK on the next possession UT scored on a forty-three-yard Field Goal by kicker Chase McGrath as time expired in the first half. At intermission Tennessee led Kentucky 24-21.
Third Quarter- The third quarter saw the teams combine for four scoring possessions, three offensively and one defensively. Kentucky had the ball on the opening drive of the quarter and Levis finished the drive with another touchdown. Levis kept the ball for a two-yard QB keeper rushing touchdown and after the successful PAT, Kentucky had regained the lead. Kentucky 28- Tennessee 24 9:56 third quarter. The Vols answered with a thirty-seven-yard rushing Touchdown by RB Jabari Small on the next possession. The Vol Defense came away with the final score of the quarter. Alontae Taylor intercepted a pass from Levis resulting in a fifty-six-yard pick six. The interception gave UT some breathing room up by ten points UT 38- UK 28. Kentucky’s offense responded with a nine play seventy-five-yard drive finished by a passing Touchdown from Levis to WR Wan ’Dale Robinson for a fifteen-yard score. At the end of the third quarter Tennessee led Kentucky 38-34.
Fourth Quarter- The Fourth Quarter featured another exciting finish to the game and had spectators on the edge of their seats with the game only being decided in the final minute of regulation. Tennessee scored first in the quarter with another passing TD from Hooker to WR Cedric Tillman. The drive was another quick score as the Vols scored on a three play forty-seven-yard drive only needing forty- four seconds to score. Kentucky responded with a passing Touchdown from Levis to Isiah Cummings and trailed UT 45-41 with 9:36 remaining in the game. Late. the quarter Tennessee was unable to finish a productive drive that had the ball in the UK Redzone. The Vols go for the Field goal but was unsuccessful, and the score remained UT 45-41. The next series for the CATS saw the CATS move the ball down the field and cross mid field. The Volunteer defense stepped up and sacked QB Levis for a huge loss, facing a fourth and twenty-six. Levis miraculously keeps the drive alive completing a pass for a first down to WR Cummings for a twenty-eight-yard gain. Kroger Field come alive with excitement. The Tennessee defense comes up huge again getting a sack on Levis and moved UK outside of field goal range. Levis who appeared to be tackled via his face mask was pleading with the Ref to call a penalty, to no avail. Coach Mark Stoops was furious and let the head referee know his frustrations. The actions of Coach Stoops resulted in a costly fifteen-yard penalty, and further pushed Kentucky back. After a completed pass by Levis to make up some yardage, the CATS faced another Fourth Down and under a minute of regulation left in the game. The CATS couldn’t keep the magic drive as the ball thrown by Levis was batted down. Tennessee took over possession and after a couple of QB kneels to end the game, the Vols escape Kroger Field with a 45- 41 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky 41 Tennessee 45.
Total yards of Offense 612 461
Passing yards 387 316
Rushing yards 225 145
First Downs 35 17
Third Downs 12-17 3-8
Total Plays 99 47
Time of Possession 46:08 13:52
Will Levis Kentucky 31- 49/ 372 passing yards/ 3 touchdowns/ 1 interception/ 15 rushes 47 yards and 2 Rushing TD.
Chris Rodriguez 22 rushes for 109 yards no touchdowns.
Kavosiey Smoke 11 rushes for 53 yards/1 rushing TD.
Wandale Robinson 13 Catches/ 166 yards/ 1 receiving TD.
Hendon Hooker QB Tennessee 15-20/ 316 passing yards/ 4 TD/11 rushes for forty- one yards.
Jabari Small RB 4 rushes/ 55 yards. 1 touchdown.
Jaylan Wright RB seven rushes/ 50 yards.
Cedric Tillman WR 6 catches/ 79 yards/ 1 TD.
Velus Jones JR WR 5 catches/ 100 yards/ 1 TD.
Javonta Payton WR 2 catches/ 78 yards/ 1 TD.
Jacob Warren 1 catch/ 18 yards/ 1 TD.