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UT bowl eligible after beating Vandy 24-17

3113 days ago
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Joshua Dobbs ran for two touchdowns and 91 yards as Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 24-17 Saturday to become eligible for the Volunteers' first bowl since 2010.

Tennessee's win also gives the Southeastern Conference a league-record 12 bowl-eligible teams. The Vols (6-6, 3-5) also snapped a two-game skid to their in-state rival that had been their longest since 1925-26.

Cameron Sutton returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown for Tennessee. The Volunteers also came up with three interceptions and three sacks, two by Curt Maggitt.

The Commodores (3-8, 0-8) at least avoided losing an eighth league game by double digits to wrap up coach Derek Mason's first season a year after going 9-4. Torren McGaster had two interceptions, and the Commodores sacked Dobbs three times.

Tennessee outgained Vanderbilt 83-12 in offense through the first quarter, then lost freshman running back Jalen Hurd to an upper-body injury. The Commodores finished with a 272-262 edge in total offense.

Patton Robinette, who beat Tennessee in Neyland Stadium a year ago with a touchdown in the final seconds, replaced starter Johnny McCrary after he was picked off in the end zone by Justin Coleman. Robinette threw for 131 yards and ran for 37 more, and he tried to rally the Commodores to another last-second win in this series.

Robinette got the Commodores to the Tennessee 49 with an 18-yard pass to Kris Kentera. But he was incomplete on his final three passes, the last on fourth-and-10 when he couldn't connect with a wide-open Trey Wilkins. Tennessee kneeled down to run out the final seconds for the win.

The Vols came into the game without receiver Marquez North, and losing Hurd left them even thinner on offense. Dobbs wound up throwing for 92 yards with completions to only three receivers. Dobbs ran 21 times and got some help from senior Marlin Lane who ran for 51 yards.

Dobbs scored just before halftime to cap a 94-yard drive giving Tennessee a 17-10 halftime lead, and he added an 8-yard TD with 3:19 left in the third quarter for a 24-10 lead.

Vanderbilt pulled within 24-17 when Ralph Webb bounced off two Tennessee defenders on his way to a 3-yard TD late in the third, then McGaster picked off his second pass of the game giving the Commodores the ball at the Tennessee 47 within the first minute of the fourth quarter.

But Robinette was intercepted two plays later by Tennessee safety Brian Randolph, and the Commodores didn't get back to midfield until inside the final minute.

Vanderbilt missed a chance to start with a bang as McGaster picked off a pass on Tennessee's first offensive snap, but Commodores linebacker Kyle Woestmann was flagged for roughing Dobbs wiping out the turnover.

Sutton, who had 72 yards combined on punt returns all season for Tennessee, took a punt 76 yards for a touchdown and the early lead midway through the first quarter. Tennessee settled for a 36-yard field goal by Aaron Medley after the Vols had first-and-goal on a 15-play drive for a 10-0 lead after the first quarter.

Vandy tied it at 10 with a 36-yard field goal by Tommy Openshaw off McGaster's first interception, and Robinette capped an 88-yard drive with a 36-yard TD pass to Steven Scheu.

Dobbs answered with a 1-yard TD and a 17-10 lead, a drive kept alive by a pass interference penalty on McGaster in the end zone.