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SEC: Vols pull out a squeaker

Associated Press
Published November 28, 2004

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer was - in a word - relieved.

With an appearance in the SEC title game against Auburn already wrapped up, the Volunteers rallied with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to beat Kentucky 37-31 on Saturday.

While a field goal would have given Tennessee the lead in the final minute, the Vols did not want to risk it after Kentucky had blocked two kicks.

Gerald Riggs put Tennessee ahead to stay with a 12-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds to go.

"Really relieved," Fulmer said. "I love each and every one of these guys, but they are making an old man out of me and the rest of the staff."

Kentucky lost its 20th straight to Tennessee, though the Vols defense had another lackluster effort in its regular-season finale.

On a cold, rainy day, the Vols were down 31-22 in the fourth quarter to one of the worst offenses in the country.

A trick play helped start the comeback. Rick Clausen tossed the ball to C.J. Fayton, who completed a 53-yard pass to Robert Meachem at the Kentucky 12. Tony Brown scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Clausen two plays later.

Clausen was intercepted on Tennessee's next possession, but Kentucky could not take advantage and punted. The Vols got the ball at their 40 with about 41/2 minutes left and trailing 31-29.

They marched into field-goal range, but with Kentucky's Lonnell Dewalt having blocked an extra point and a field goal earlier, Tennessee passed up a chance to let the kicker try to win it. Dewalt finished the season with seven blocked kicks, a school record.

Riggs ran straight through the line on third down for the touchdown, and Cedric Houston added another run for the two-point conversion.

Tennessee's Corey Campbell intercepted Shane Boyd's pass with six seconds left to seal it.

Clausen, playing for injured freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer, was 26-of-41 for 349 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Houston had 127 yards rushing on 24 carries, and Meachem had five catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.

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