(WVLT & utsports.com) -- A goal-line stand on fourth-and-goal by the Tennessee defense sealed a 17-13 victory over the Kentucky at Kroger Field on Saturday night.
After Tennessee stifled three consecutive Wildcat runs from inside the 6-yard line, Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. ran for the end zone on fourth-down and was stopped by the Vols' Daniel Bituli and Ja'Quain Blakely with 1:17 remaining.
Led by redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee (5-5, 3-3 SEC) came back from a 13-0 first-half deficit to win – the largest deficit that a Tennessee team has overcome to win since Sept. 4, 2017 against Georgia Tech.
Guarantano came off the bench to start the second half under center and engineered back-to-back touchdown drives in the third quarter, completing his first seven passes in the process.
Marquez Callaway collected 104 yards and one touchdown through the air, his third 100-yard reception game of the season. Josh Palmer had a season-high-tying 55 receiving yards and caught his first touchdown of the season.
The defense held the Wildcats to 327 yards of total offense, collecting a pair of sacks and an interception. Daniel Bituli led all players in tackles, collecting a season-high 19 stops.
Kentucky opened the game with a 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took more than 10 minutes off the clock, capped off by an Asim Rose two-yard run. After blocking a Tennessee punt, UK scored again on a 22-yard run from Kavosiey Smoke.
Vols' defensive lineman Darel Middleton blocked the extra point attempt to keep the Wildcat lead at 13-0 with 2:28 left in the first quarter.
Tennessee's first points came in the second quarter via an 11-play, 71-yard drive capped by a Brent Cimaglia 26-yard field goal.
With Kentucky driving late in the second quarter, senior Nigel Warrior intercepted his fourth pass this season, returning it to UT's 46-yard line.
After entering the game to start the second half at quarterback, Guarantano pieced together a seven-play, 75-yard drive, ending in the Vols' first touchdown of the game. Guarantano connected with senior receiver Marquez Callaway on a 33-yard pass to move into Kentucky territory before the duo again hooked up on a 17-yard scoring pass to make it 13-10.
The defense followed UT's scoring drive by forcing a UK three-and-out, capped by a Darrell Taylor sack.
The next drive, UT would take its first lead of the night as Guarantano and Josh Palmer connected on a 12-yard touchdown pass to put the Vols up 17-13. Guarantano went five-for-five on the seven-play, 68-yard drive.
The defense would go on to hold off UK for the second-straight drive. On fourth-and-six, Matthew Butler sacked UK quarterback Lynn Bowden for a loss of six yards to give UT the ball.
With UK driving late in the fourth quarter, the defense forced an incompletion on fourth-and-three to give the ball back to the offense.
This is the 115th meeting between KY and TN is this border battle.
They've been playing every year since 1919.
Tennessee wins the toss will defer possession until the 3rd quarter.
Kentucky scores first with 4:42 to go in the 1st.
7-0 Kentucky from a 17 play drive which took 10:18 off the clock.
Brian Maurer takes the first snaps for Tennessee. Vols go 3 and out.
Tennessee's punt is blocked. KY recovers near Tennessee's 20.
Kentucky takes a 13-0 lead over Tennessee with a 22 yard TD run. But the extra point is missed with 2:29 to go in the first.
Another 3 and out for TN with 1:35 to go in the first.
End of the 1st Quarter: Kentucky 13 Tennessee 0
Henry To'o To'o leaves the game injured just before the end of the 1st quarter.
Tennessee scores a 26 yard field goal midway through the 2nd Quarter. 13-3 Kentucky. It was an 11 play drive led by Vols QB Brian Maurer.
Tennessee's Henry To'o To'o back in the game with 7:23 to go in the 2nd Quarter. He's got a new brace on his knee.
Tennessee's Nigel Warrior intercepts Kentucky with 5:31 to go in the 2nd. TD run called back after Warrior steps out of bounds.
Kentucky leads Tennessee at the half, 13-3.
Tennessee's J.G. will start at QB for the 2nd half.
After a TN TD was called back because of a penalty with 12:04 to go in the 3rd ... J.G. connects with M. Callaway for the touchdown. But Tennessee still trails KY 13-10.
7:15 in the 3rd, the THIRD Tennessee TD is called back.
Josh Palmer down at the 15 after a JG pass which was first thought of as a TD.
Moments later, with 6:28 to go in the 3rd, a TN TD pass to Josh Palmer is confirmed upon review, 17-13, TN takes its first lead of the game.
End of the third quarter. Tennessee leads the Wildcats 17-13.
7:47 in the 4th, Key Tennessee fumble, Ty Chandler drops the ball, KY recovers near the TN 45.
TN wins goal line stand. TN D fights off Kentucky scoring threat. Ball is now in TN's hands with 1:30 to go in the game. The Vols lead 17-13.
Final Score Tennessee over Kentucky 17-13.