The Tennessee Volunteers had one simple goal going into this season — become bowl eligible.
Vanderbilt ended those hopes on Saturday night with a 14-10 win over the Vols in front of 97,223 at Neyland Stadium.
The game was ugly on both sides, as Vanderbilt (7-4) and Tennessee (4-7) combined for seven turnovers.
The Vols led for much of the game, even though they were unable to generate much offense.
Vanderbilt scored the go-ahead touchdown with 16 seconds left to play on a Patton Robinette QB keeper.
Dobbs’ hail mary from the 50 yard line fail incomplete, giving the Commodores the win.
Josh Dobbs was 11-of-19 for only 53 yards and two interceptions. He rushed for 50 yards and had a 13 yard touchdown run called back in the second half due to a block in the back.
Rajion Neal paced the team offensively with 100 rushing yards on 22 carries, including the Vols only TD of the game. Marlin Lane added 53 yards on 9 carries.
Pig Howard was the Vols leading receiver with 23 yards on only two receptions.
Marquez North, who has been the Vols best receiver all season, was hurt early in the first half and was unable to return to the game. Butch Jones said after the game that North suffered an ankle injury.
Butch Jones was visibly upset after the game, offering a snarky “no comment”, when asked about the officiating.
On Vanderbilt’s final drive they came up short on fourth down, but the play was reviewed and overturned, giving Vandy a first down.
Overall the grind of a brutal schedule and long season has taken it’s toll on a young Tennessee team.
The Vols, at best, will finish the season at 5-7 — just as they have the previous two seasons.
But there is cause for optimism with this Volunteer team. The Vols have less talent this season than they’ve ever had.
They proved they can break through against a ranked opponent and they have a top recruiting class coming in next season.
It’s hard to have to wait another season, but that’s what you have to do when the program has fallen to the depths that Tennessee’s has in recent years.
Remember Vol fans — Butch Jones was 4-8 in his first season at Cincinnati, before leading the team to back t0 back Big East conference titles.
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