KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Defense was optional Saturday in East Tennessee.
On a gorgeous but chilly afternoon in November, an intramural football game broke out inside Neyland Stadium, as Tennessee and Kentucky combined for 1,234 yards and 10 touchdowns in a 49-36 shootout win for the Vols.
Kentucky ran for 443 yards — 3 shy of a school record — and still lost by two scores.
Led by quarterback Josh Dobbs, Tennessee’s offense was unstoppable, churning up acreage with ease on nearly every drive.
Dobbs, a senior making his second-to-last start at home, gashed the Wildcats on the ground (181 yards and 2 touchdowns) and through the air (223 yards and 3 scores).
Alvin Kamara (128 yards and 2 scores), returning from a knee injury that had sidelined him for three games, and John Kelly (94 yards) were brilliant, too.
Kelly finished 6 yards shy of giving Tennessee three 100-yard rushers for just the second time in school history.
“We just took full advantage on all our opportunities and just kept the defense on their heels every time we were out there,” Kelly said.
Tennessee piled up 20 “chunk plays” — 14 rushes of more than 10 yards and 6 passes covering more than 15 yards. Kentucky was just as explosive, recording 22 such plays, but every time the ‘Cats marched down the field for a score, the Vols answered.
“It was big for the whole morale of the team, especially the defense,” said tight end Ethan Wolf, who had 4 catches for 44 yards and a score. “They had some big plays, scored some touchdowns, but we talk about complimentary football every week and it’s our job to pick them up and put another score on the board.”
The raw numbers:
29 first downs
376 rushing yards
10.2 yards per play
5 total 3rd downs
Tennessee’s 10 most explosive plays Saturday
- 51-yard touchdown pass to Josh Malone. A beautifully called and executed flea-flicker.
- 44-yard screen pass to Tyler Byrd. The freshman broke a tackle and raced down the sideline.
- 45-yard touchdown run by Dobbs. The senior weaved right and then beat everyone to the sticks.
- 41-yard run by Dobbs. An immediate answer after UK jumped to a 7-0 lead.
- 39-yard rush by Kamara. The speeder made one cut in the hole and raced up field.
- 35-yard run by Dobbs. Another huge play off the read-option to the right.
- 29-yard touchdown run by Kamara. The junior split right and sprinted up the sideline avoiding defenders.
- 27-yard run by Kelly. The sophomore made a quick cut in the backfield and burst up the middle for his biggest play of the night.
- 24-yard touchdown pass to Josh Smith. Tying the game at 7, the junior receiver was wide open on a busted coverage, as Tennessee confused UK with a bunched alignment.
- 22-yard rush by Dobbs. Easy first down off the read-option.