LEXINGTON, Ky. — Some expected Tennessee to lose to Vanderbilt. Few, if any, thought the Volunteers would lose to Kentucky.
But for the first time in 27 years, that’s exactly what happened Saturday afternoon in Commonwealth Stadium.
The Wildcats (5-7, 2-6 SEC) used a wide receiver, Matt Roark, at quarterback and found a way to end the nation’s longest losing streak to another school, defeating the Vols (5-7, 1-7) 10-7.
“Well, real bad ending to a real bad year and it’s hard to say much more than that,” UT coach Derek Dooley said. “Our biggest fears were realized.”
A win would’ve made UT bowl eligible, but the loss ends UT’s season and gives the Vols back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1910-11.
“It’s a sick feeling to my stomach ’cause I really didn’t want my seniors — for Kentucky to be their last game and to lose to Kentucky after 26 years,” defensive tackle Maurice Couch said. “It’s just real tough to explain.”
Roark attempted just six passes, going 4-of-6 for 15 yards, but the Wildcats ran for 202 yards, including 124 from the unexpected signal-caller.
“We thought they might come out in ‘Wildcat,’” Dooley said. “Didn’t know it was going to be the whole game.”
After UT went three-and-out on the opening drive, Kentucky went on a 15-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 24-yard field goal to put the Wildcats up 3-0 midway through the first quarter.
Despite the Vols getting inside the UK 35-yard line twice, neither team scored again until the fourth quarter.
“We were just miserable in the first half on offense and had a chance in the second half but couldn’t execute,” Dooley said.
A Michael Palardy 47-yard field goal was blocked early in the second quarter. On UT’s next possession, the Vols marched down to the UK 31-yard line, but facing a fourth-and-four, quarterback Tyler Bray’s pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage.
 In the third quarter, Bray connected with Rajion Neal on a 44-yard completion to set the Vols up with a first-and-goal from the Wildcats’ 8. Two plays later, Neal let a shotgun snap go through his hands and UK recovered.
“That’s something I’ve just got to take on my shoulders,” Neal said. “I mean, it’s ... it’s tough and I apologize for it. I was really hurting after it.”
The Wildcats took that momentum and responded with an 8-play, 77-yard drive capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by tailback CoShik Williams to put UK up 10-0 with 14:12 remaining in the game.
The key play of the drive was Roark’s 26-yard scramble on third-and-12 from the UT 33-yard line. Roark appeared to fumble the ball as he was being tackled and UT believed it had recovered. Dooley challenged the play, but officials confirmed the call, setting up Williams’ score two plays later.
The Vols’ lone score came less than a minute and a half later on a 53-yard deep strike from Bray to Neal.
 Neal was UT’s leading receiver in the game with four receptions for 125 yards and one score. It was his first 100-yard receiving game of his career.
Bray, who was sick in the days leading up the game, was just 15-of-38 for 215 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
"I went out there and played horrible,” Bray said. “First half was horrible. Second half, I had that one drive, that was about it.”
A week after beating in-state rival Vanderbilt in what Dooley called “a big step for our program,” UT appeared flat against a Wildcats team playing only for pride.
“You saw it on the field, you saw it as well as I did, except I was out there playing,” senior tailback Tauren Poole said. “Seemed like everyone was down. We had the chance to go to a bowl. That chance is shot now. At the end of the day, we can’t complain. Kentucky brought it, we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. Here we’re sitting, 26-year streak gone.
“It’s embarrassing just to be a Vol right now.”