LEXINGTON — Joshua Dobbs accounted for four touchdowns and Tennessee scored on both a kickoff return and punt return Saturday in a 52-21 rout of Kentucky that continued the Volunteers’ domination of this annual series.
Tennessee (4-4, 2-3 SEC) has won 30 of its last 31 meetings with Kentucky (4-4, 2-4). The Wildcats’ lone victory during that stretch was a 10-7 decision in 2011.
Dobbs was 16 of 26 for 233 yards with one interception and two touchdown passes, including a 75-yard pass to Josh Malone that put Tennessee ahead for good late in the second quarter. He also rushed for 51 yards and two scores.
Evan Berry scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and Cam Sutton reached the end zone on an 84-yard punt return in the third quarter. Berry has three touchdowns on kickoff returns this year to tie Willie Gault’s 35-year-old school single-season record.
That marked the second time this season Tennessee scored on a punt return and kickoff return in the same game. Berry had an 88-yard kickoff return and Alvin Kamara scored on a 50-yard punt return in a 55-10 victory over Western Carolina.
Kentucky’s Mikel Horton rushed for 109 yards, while Patrick Towles was 16 of 33 for 184 yards with a touchdown pass, an interception and a touchdown run. The Wildcats lost leading rusher Boom Williams to an elbow injury in the second quarter.
Jalen Hurd scored on a 37-yard reception and a 4-yard run for Tennessee. On the touchdown reception, Hurd actually caught the pass about 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage before weaving his way into the end zone.
A busy weekend sports schedule in Kentucky forced Tennessee to get creative with its itinerary for this road trip. Because Lexington was hosting both this game and the Breeders’ Cup on Saturday, there weren’t enough available local hotel rooms for the Volunteers.
Tennessee spent Friday night in Cincinnati, about 80 miles north of Kentucky’s campus. The Vols held a walk-through Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium — the Cincinnati Bengals’ home field — before driving back to Lexington.
Their indirect route to the game didn’t bother the Vols. After briefly falling behind 14-10 with 5 ½ minutes left in the first half, Tennessee outscored Kentucky 42-7 over a span of 15 minutes.
Tennessee outgained Kentucky 144-2 in the first quarter, though the score was tied 7-all at the end of the period because of C.J. Johnson’s 77-yard fumble return. Johnson — a 300-pound defensive tackle — picked up a loose ball and scampered to the end zone after Marcus McWilson sacked Dobbs and forced a fumble.
After getting just one first down on its first three possessions, Kentucky pulled back ahead 14-10 with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that featured two fourth-down conversions, including Towles’ 1-yard touchdown keeper on fourth-and-goal.
Kentucky’s lead lasted just 13 seconds.
On Tennessee’s next play from scrimmage, Dobbs threw deep to Josh Malone, who caught the pass inside Kentucky’s 25. Kentucky cornerback Cody Quinn dove and fell to the ground while attempting to defend the pass, giving Malone a clear path to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
From then on, it was all Tennessee.