Kentucky returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the first half and the UK defense held No. 18 Tennessee in check the entire game as the Cats broke a 17-game losing streak in Knoxville by beating the Vols 34-7 on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
Kelvin Joseph got the scoring underway with a pick-six in the second quarter and Jamin Davis did the same later in the quarter to give the Cats a 14-0 lead.
Kentucky (2-2, 2-2 SEC) had only 294 yards of total offense in the game, but the Cats forced four UT turnovers and scored 17 points off those miscues.
Quarterback Terry Wilson was 12 of 15 through the air for 101 yards and a touchdown. Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed for 73 yards and a score for the Cats.
The teams traded punts to start the game, then each team turned it over on their next possession. The first quarter would end with the game still scoreless.
Starting the second quarter, Kentucky punted again and Tennessee took possession. After getting a first down, Joseph intercepted UT quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. It was Joseph’s second interception in as many weeks. Matt Ruffolo added the extra point and Kentucky led 7-0 with 12:47 left in the half.
On the next UT possession, the Cats did it again. As Tennessee was driving, Guarantano was picked off again, this time by Davis, who grabbed a pass thrown across the middle and returned it 85 yards for UK’s second defensive touchdown of the first half. Ruffalo’s PAT gave the Cats a 14-0 lead with 10:33 to play in the first half.
Tennessee went to backup quarterback J.T. Shrout on its next possession, but the result was the same. This time, it was UK defensive back Tyrell Ajian interception a pass, giving the Cats possession at the UT 37.
The Cats took advantage of the fourth UT turnover of the first half when Ruffolo nailed a 30-yard field goal to give UK a 17-0 lead with 6:18 to play in the half.
Tennessee was able to get on the board late in the half, using 14 plays to cover 75 yards and ending with a four-yard touchdown rush from Ty Chandler. Brent Cimaglia added the PAT and the Vols pulled within 17-7 with 1:36 to play in the half. That would be the halftime score.
The Vols went three and out on their first possession of the second half. Kentucky took over and drove deep into Tennessee territory. And on third-and-goal from the one, Wilson hit Allen Dailey Jr. in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to complete the 11-play, 76-yard drive. Ruffolo added the PAT and the Cats led 24-7 with 7:24 to play in the third quarter.
After another Tennessee punt, Kentucky again drove into the UT red zone. But the Vols stopped the Cats inside the ten and UK was forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Ruffolo, which he converted to give the Cats a 27-7 lead with 1:02 left in the third.
Tennessee went three and out again on its next possession and the Cats turned to the ground game on the ensuing possession. Kentucky ran the ball on seven straight plays, the final one being a two-yard touchdown rush from Rodrugez. Ruffolo added another PAT and the Cats led 34-7 with 10:54 to play.