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Joshua Dobbs helps Tennessee offense continue resurgence in 50-16 victory over Kentucky

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Joshua Dobbs threw three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth score Saturday as Tennessee trounced Kentucky 50-16 to continue its mastery of this annual series.

Tennessee (5-5, 2-4 SEC) beat Kentucky (5-6, 2-6) for the 29th time in their last 30 meetings. Kentucky lost its fifth straight overall in a matchup between two teams chasing their first bowl bids since 2010.

The Volunteers can become bowl eligible by beating Missouri at home next week or by winning at Vanderbilt on Nov. 29. Kentucky, which has next week off, must win Nov. 29 at Louisville to have a shot at a bowl bid.

Dobbs went 19 of 27 for 297 yards and threw two touchdown passes to Von Pearson and one to Justin Croom. Tennessee's Jalen Hurd rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

Austin MacGinnis kicked three field goals for Kentucky, including a school-record 54-yarder.

Tennessee's offense continued its remarkable late-season surge that has coincided with Dobbs' emergence. Tennessee had failed to score a touchdown in back-to-back SEC games against Florida and Ole Miss earlier this season. The Vols have scored 95 points in Dobbs' two starts, their highest total in back-to-back SEC games since 2003.

The Vols had to change quarterbacks last month after Justin Worley tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder, knocking him out for the remainder of the season. After Nathan Peterman played the first two series of a 34-20 loss to Alabama on Oct. 25, Dobbs took over and hasn't looked back.

Dobbs rallied Tennessee to a 45-42 overtime victory at South Carolina two weeks ago while setting a single-game school rushing record for a quarterback and becoming the first Vol ever to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in the same game. He showed Saturday that performance against South Carolina was no fluke.

On Tennessee's opening possession, Dobbs flipped a short pass that Pearson turned into a 21-yard touchdown. Dobbs connected with Pearson again for a 16-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Dobbs threw a career-long 52-yard touchdown completion to Croom.

After Kentucky took an early 3-0 lead, Tennessee scored the game's next 30 points while capitalizing on an injury to Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles.

Towles, who was largely responsible for setting up the field goal on Kentucky's opening possession, left the game during the Wildcats' second series. Kentucky's offense wasn't the same without him.

On Kentucky's third drive, cornerback Justin Coleman hit redshirt freshman Reese Phillips just as he attempted a pass, resulting in an errant throw that safety Brian Randolph caught and returned 23 yards for Tennessee's first defensive touchdown of the season.

By the time Towles got back into the game early in the second quarter, Kentucky trailed 20-3. His return couldn't stop Tennessee's momentum.

Kentucky has allowed 113 points over its last two contests — the first time since 1994 it has given up at least 50 points in back-to-back weeks — and has dropped five straight games by an average margin of 25.6 points.

The news wasn't all good for the Vols.

Randolph was ejected for a targeting penalty in third quarter, which will prevent him from playing the first half of the Missouri game. Tennessee also lost starting center Mack Crowder to an apparent leg injury in the second half.

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