Tennessee ended a month-long drought, but it still wasn’t enough to grab the lead as Kentucky holds a 21-20 advantage at the break in Lexington.
Kentucky accepted the ball to open the game and promptly fumbled, leading to a 30-yard Brent Cimaglia to put Tennessee on the board first. Wildcats running back Benny Snell, Jr., made up for his mistake by carrying the load on Kentucky’s next possession, including a 6-yarder across the goal line.
Tennessee responded with a nice 69-yard possession of its own, but the drive stalled at the Kentucky 6-yard line, forcing a 24-yard boot by Cimaglia, pulling the Vols within 7-6 late in the first quarter.
Kentucky fumbled again on its next touch, but Tennessee failed to capitalize when Cimaglia missed a 44-yarder.
Snell punched in a 2-yard score to open the second quarter, giving Kentucky a 14-6 lead, but Tennessee pulled within one with a 7-play, 75-yard drive. Ty Chandler‘s 1-yard rush gave the Volunteers their first offensive touchdown in almost four full games.
However, Kentucky answered with an identical drive: seven plays, 75 yards, punctuated by a 1-yard rush, Snell’s third of the half. Snell rushed a game-high 14 times for 125 yards and all three of Kentucky’s scores. Stephen Johnson hit 4-of-7 passes for 28 yards.
Now apparently unstoppable, an unleashed Tennessee offense responded with a 10-play, 71-yard drive that again concluded on a 1-yard Chandler rush with 1:25 to play before the break.
One player for each team was ejected later in the half for accumulating two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
Chandler closed the half rushing 10 times for 87 yards and two scores, and Carlin Fils-aime has added 52 yards on 11 carries. Jarrett Guarantano completed 8-of-11 passes for 86 yards.
Tennessee will receive to open the second half.