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Dobbs, Hurd help Tennessee defeat Vanderbilt 53-28

1713 days ago
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Joshua Dobbs threw two touchdown passes to Von Pearson and ran for a third score Saturday as Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 53-28 to end the regular season with its first five-game winning streak since 2007.

This also marks the first time Tennessee (8-4, 5-3 SEC) has won at least eight games in a season since the 2007 team finished 10-4.

Tennessee's Jalen Hurd rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, and Cameron Sutton scored on an 85-yard punt return. Vanderbilt stayed close for most of the first half before Tennessee reeled off 33 straight points, turning a 20-14 game into a 53-14 runaway.

Ralph Webb rushed for 149 yards and Kyle Shurmur threw three touchdown passes for Vanderbilt (4-8, 2-6).

Tennessee beat Vanderbilt for a second straight year after losing to its in-state rival in 2012 and 2013. Tennessee has won 31 of its last 34 meetings with Vanderbilt overall.

The Volunteers put up their highest point total against a Southeastern Conference opponent since a 59-21 victory over Mississippi State in 2003.

Tennessee rushed for 331 yards, the defense produced a safety when Derek Barnett sacked Shurmur in the end zone and Aaron Medley kicked three field goals. Alvin Kamara rushed for 99 yards, and Dobbs ran for 93 yards while throwing for 140 yards.

Sutton arguably delivered the biggest play of all.

Vanderbilt was only trailing 20-14 late in the second quarter before Sutton's punt return helped Tennessee seize control of the game. Sutton stumbled initially, but he regained his footing and headed toward the right sideline before sprinting into the end zone.

This marked the second straight year Sutton has scored on a punt return against Vanderbilt, as he had a 76-yarder to open the scoring last season in Tennessee's 24-17 victory. Sutton, who scored on an 84-yard return against Kentucky last month, is the first Tennessee player to score two touchdowns on punt returns in one season since Terry Fair in 1996. Sutton has 467 yards in punt returns this season, breaking Bobby Majors' 46-year-old school record.

Tennessee has scored on a total of six returns this season. Evan Berry has three touchdowns on kickoff returns and Kamara scored one touchdown on a punt return.

According to STATS LLC, Tennessee has the most combined touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns in one season by any Football Bowl Subdivision program since North Carolina had seven in 2013. North Carolina scored on five punt returns and two kickoff returns that season.

Sutton's touchdown turned the momentum in Tennessee's favor for good after Vanderbilt hung around for the first 25 minutes.

Tennessee scored on each of its first four possessions but couldn't pull away early because the Commodores' dormant offense finally came to life in the last week of the regular season.

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AP college website: collegefootball.ap.org