Tennessee Stat Book
Watching with Ward
The Streak lives on, spilling over Saturday into its second quarter of a century.
That's the big picture. The short-term gain of Tennessee's 26th consecutive victory over Kentucky is that the Vols' season also lives on.
"Now I've got one more game and I'm looking forward to it.''
He's got one more game because a four-game winning streak carried the Vols from the depths of a winless October to a 6-6 finish (3-5 SEC).
They're bowl eligible and most likely headed to Nashville for the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30.
A November victory tour that began in Memphis and visited Nashville climaxed on the home turf before a Senior Day crowd of 101,170.
UT pulled away from a 14-14 tie on Tauren Poole's 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and tacked on a 36-yard Daniel Lincoln field goal in the fourth.
The result, given the opponent, was ultimately predictable, despite the fact that Kentucky had the weapons to end its string of futility that predates anyone on either roster.
"It's expected for Tennessee to win the game,'' said UT tight end Luke Stocker, a Kentucky native. "We went out there with that mindset today.''
While the mindset was familiar, the timing of the critical moment was a bit of a surprise.
Here lately in the one-sided border war, the decisive plays have come at the end of the game - in overtime, even, two of the past three years.
But when the Wildcats (6-6, 2-6) bemoan their latest loss to the Vols, they'll point to the sequence at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second.
Specifically, when a goal-line fumble and what followed turned a potential 14-0 Kentucky lead into a 14-7 Tennessee advantage.
"It looked like of the first 25 plays of the game, we might have won two of 'em,'' said Dooley.
One of the two came on first-and-goal at the Tennessee 1 as the first quarter wound down. It couldn't have been bigger.
The Wildcats already led 7-0 after a smart opening march ended in Derrick Locke's 17-yard touchdown run.
Following Tennessee's second three-and-out possession, Kentucky mounted another impressive drive.
It arrived at first-and-goal at the 2. This time, however, Locke lost control of the handoff from Mike Hartline and fumbled as he got to the goal line.
Reveiz wasn't exaggerating when he said he gave Tennessee everything he had.
He won the scramble for the loose ball in the end zone, making the recovery for a touchback. The Vols took over at the 20.
"I'll always just remember Nick Reveiz doing his job, being in the right place at the right time,'' said defensive end Gerald Williams.
" 'Cause if he wasn't there, it would probably have been a touchdown and a different outcome to the game.''
Six plays later, Tyler Bray was throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Jones.
And just over three minutes after that, Bray was tossing a 12-yard TD pass to Denarius Moore to make it 14-7.
Tennessee had dodged a potential landscape-shifting bullet and was on its way to preserving the status quo.
"How quick things change,'' said Kentucky coach Joker Phillips.
"We go in and fumble, a few plays later you're tied, a few plays after that, you're down seven.
"We've got to learn that when you get guys down, you've got to keep them down.''
But there was work to be done.
Kentucky opened the second half with a 76-yard drive to tie the score 14-14.
An Alcoa High School product got the touchdown, but not the expected one.
On fourth down at the 2, the Vols were hunkered down to stop the run but Tyler Robinson, a freshman tight end, caught a Hartline pass for the equalizing score.
Alcoa's Randall Cobb, meanwhile, went without a touchdown for the first time all season.
He caught 13 passes for 116 yards, rushed for 25 more yards and added 4 yards on his only punt return. It added up to 145 all-purpose yards, but Tennessee could live with that.
"He catches 13 passes, but only averages nine (8.9) yards a catch,'' Dooley said. "That means you're tackling.
"We played a great second half against a good football team.''
At halftime, the Wildcats had run 53 plays to Tennessee's 21. But only 138 of Kentucky's 390 yards of total offense came in the second half.
Bray was 20-of-38 passing for 354 yards. He was intercepted twice, both times nixing promising scoring opportunities.
Hartline was 31-of-44 for 272 yards. His only interception - by Prentiss Waggner, his fifth of the year - came with 4:55 to play and Tennessee never gave the ball back.
And so it ended. But The Streak didn't.
"They're all bitter,'' said Phillips, Kentucky's rookie head coach, "let me tell you that. This one is the worst because it's the present.''
One first-year coach's bitter pill was another first-year coach's relief.
"The previous 25,'' said Dooley, "didn't help us win today.
"I'm just glad in my first year we didn't snap that thing. Nobody would have been happy.''