12:30 PM ET, November 26, 2005
Commonwealth Stadium, LEXINGTON, KY
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Erik Ainge passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as Tennessee avoided finishing last in the SEC East with a 27-8 win over Kentucky.
With the victory, Tennessee (5-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) ended a disappointing season by extending the second-longest active winning streak in an uninterrupted series between major college opponents to 21 games. Notre Dame's 42-game winning streak over Navy is the longest. Kentucky (3-8, 2-6) hasn't beaten Tennessee since 1984.
Tennessee began the season ranked No. 3 but fell out of bowl consideration last Saturday with a home loss to Vanderbilt, ending the Volunteers' 22-game winning streak over their in-state opponent. The Vols, however, haven't lost to both Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the same season since 1964.
Kentucky had been competitive against Tennessee the past two seasons, losing 20-7 and 37-31, but the Wildcats squandered their chances this time. Three times the Wildcats had possession inside the Tennessee 10, but came away with only two field goals.
Ainge made his fifth start of the season and went the distance, completing 17 of 25 passes and setting season highs for completions, yards and touchdowns. His first-half touchdown throws of 50 yards to Robert Meachem and 32 yards to Chris Hannon, which staked the Vols to a 17-6 halftime lead, were Ainge's two longest completions of the season.
The lead could've been larger, but Tennessee had two turnovers in its own territory and had two long touchdown plays by tailback Arian Foster -- a 55-yard run and a 78-yard catch -- called back because of penalties. Foster finished with 114 yards on 26 carries and also had five catches for 44 yards.
Kentucky lost starting quarterback Andre Woodson in the second quarter to a shoulder injury, and his backup, freshman Curtis Pulley, fumbled three times, losing one, and threw three interceptions, one of which Tennessee defensive tackle Justin Harrell returned 7 yards for a third-quarter touchdown.
Pulley finished 23-of-33 passing for 155 yards.
Kentucky opened the second half by driving from its own 20 to the Tennessee 9, but Pulley fumbled and Tennessee's Kevin Simon recovered. The Wildcats made only one other trip into Tennessee territory and scored their only second-half points on a fourth-quarter safety.
Ainge's touchdown pass to Meachem came courtesy of a Kentucky error, as Meachem caught a short pass and went untouched into the end zone after two Kentucky defenders missed potential tackles.
Kentucky's Draak Davis forced and recovered a fumble by Tennessee punt returner Jonathan Hefney at the Tennessee 9, but the Wildcats lost four yards on three plays and settled for a 31-yard field goal by Taylor Begley.
Kentucky lost the ball on downs at the Tennessee 41 late in the first quarter, but Trey Mielsch recovered a fumble by Ainge at the Vols' 30. Again, Kentucky couldn't record a first down, and Begley missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt.
Tennessee went up 14-3 on its next series, as Ainge connected with Hannon for a touchdown. Begley added a 25-yard field goal before halftime.
Tennessee kicker James Wilhoit had field goals of 31 and 40 yards.
The Fan Pick
88.0% of College Pick'em players picked Tennessee to win the game.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-13||7-18|
|4th Down Conversions||1-3||0-2|
|TD||12:50||ROBERT MEACHEM 50 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 74 yards.
|FG||5:01||TAYLOR BEGLEY 31 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, -4 yards.
|TD||11:31||CHRIS HANNON 32 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 74 yards.
|FG||6:14||TAYLOR BEGLEY 25 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 73 yards.
|FG||0:58||JAMES WILHOIT II 31 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 72 yards.
|TD||1:19||JUSTIN HARRELL 7 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)||24||6|
|FG||13:07||JAMES WILHOIT II 40 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 40 yards.