Five plays that determined Tennessee’s loss to Kentucky

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    (Photo courtesy of Kentucky Athletics Communications)

    No. 18 Tennessee fell to Kentucky 34-7 as a result of tumultuous quarterback play on Saturday inside of Neyland Stadium. It was the Cats’ first win over the Vols in Knoxville since 1984. It was also the first time Kentucky has beaten a ranked Tennessee team since 1959.

    The game was knotted at zero at the end of the first quarter. Three straight turnovers to begin the second quarter, however, led to Kentucky taking a 17-0 lead with 6:18 remaining in the first half. The deficit would prove to be too much for the Vols to overcome.

    Here are the five plays that led to Tennessee’s loss to Kentucky.

    No. 1) Pick-six No. 2

    Neither pick-six that Jarrett Guarantano threw against Kentucky was pretty, but the second one was worse. It was worse because Tennessee was on the verge of scoring.

    After Guarantano’s first pick-six, the offense responded well. Guarantano found Brandon Johnson for a 25-yard gain, then Eric Gray for a 10-yard gain and then Gray again for a 9-yard gain. But then, after an eight-yard rush from Gray, Guarantano threw it right to a Kentucky defender who returned it 85-yards for a touchdown to put the Cats up 14-0. Guarantano threw right into the mitts of Jamin Davis despite the intended receiver not being open. It was as bad of an interception as you’re going to see.

    No. 2) Pick-six No. 1

    The first pick-six was about as bad as you’re going to see as well. On 3rd-and-4, Guarantano was late getting the ball to Cedric Tillman on the sideline and Kentucky corner Kelvin Joseph jumped the pass and returned it 41-yards to the house to put the Cats up 7-0.

    No. 3) Chandler runs into Guarantano

    The two pick-sixes were infuriating because despite the game being knotted at zero at the end of the first quarter, Tennessee was the better team in the opening frame. The Vols just didn’t have anything to show for it. One of those reasons is because of a fumble.

    A sack killed Tennessee’s opening drive despite driving into Kentucky territory. On the second drive, yet another turnover did the job. On 2nd-and-2 from the 26-yard line, Guarantano dropped back to pass and Ty Chandler ran into him, causing a fumble that Kentucky fell on. A good drive wasted by the Vols because they shot themselves in the foot. Simply unacceptable.

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    No. 4) J.T. Shrout’s interception

    J.T. Shrout got an opportunity to seize the job from Guarantano following the two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Shrout’s decision on the interception was as bad as Guarantano’s, it just wasn’t returned for a touchdown.

    No. 5) Terry Wilson’s lone touchdown pass

    Tennessee began to creep back in the game despite the turnovers in the first half from the quarterbacks. Chandler rushed for a 5-yard touchdown just before the half to cut Kentucky’s lead to 17-7 at the break.

    But the Vols’ offense went three-and-out to begin the second half and the momentum that had been created disappeared quickly. Tennessee allowed Kentucky to march down the field and put the game away with a 1-yard passing touchdown from Wilson to Allen Dailey. It put the Cats up 24-7 with 7:24 remaining in the third quarter.

    Ben McKee
    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He grew up an Army brat and lived in Alabama for a bit, but he bleeds orange. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also a co-host on the RTI Live Show and RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.

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