Early in the 1st quarter of Saturday’s senior night game at Neyland Stadium, news came from Baton Rouge that the Volunteers would not be competing for an SEC Championship in Atlanta.
Florida had denied LSU on a 4th and goal as time expired, securing a repeat of an SEC East title, and a shot to take down Alabama on December 3 in Atlanta.
This inevitable disappointment did not slow down Josh Dobbs and the Volunteers offense. Dobbs left the game in the 4th quarter to a standing ovation after accounting for 413 yards and 5 touchdowns as Tennessee defeated Missouri 63-37.
Dobbs was one of 14 seniors honored before the game, which would be their last in Knoxville.
Both teams entered the game as the quickest offenses in the SEC, averaging less than two minutes per possession on its touchdown drives this season. Quarterbacks Josh Dobbs and Drew Lock also entered the game tied for most touchdown passes in the SEC with 21 each.
The Tigers finished the game with 740 total yards, the most ever against the Volunteers, including 420 rushing yards, powered by Damarea Crockett (225 yards) and Ish Witter (163 yards). Missouri also set single-game team records with 110 offensive plays and 41 first downs.
However, the Tigers stellar offensive performance was not enough. Dobbs was 15 of 22 for 223 yards and 3 touchdowns, and added a career-high 190 yards, on just 10 carries, including a career-long 70-yard run for a touchdown.
Missouri struck first with a 22-yard run by Damarea Crockett, quickly followed by a 7 play, 98-yard drive which was capped off with a 49-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings.
The 2nd quarter began with Dobbs escaping tackles and stepping up in the pocket for a 57-yard pass to Josh Malone. Missouri responded with another impressive 71-yard drive of their own, ending with a rushing touchdown from quarterback Drew Lock.
While Dobbs led the way in rushing for the game, Alvin Kamara ran for 55 yards and a pair of touchdowns. John Kelly added 101 yards and one touchdown. The Volunteers carried a 21-20 lead into halftime due to a missed Missouri extra point.
The second half was all Tennessee. Lock’s first pass of the 3rd quarter was intercepted by Micah Abernathy, leading to a 5-yard pass to Jauan Jennings for a touchdown.
Dobbs once again escaped multiple defenders to run for a 30-yard score, but the Vols were hanging on to only a 35-30 lead before Dobbs broke a career-long 70-yard run for a touchdown.
Jonathan Kongbo secured the victory for the Vols with a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown with 5 minutes left in the game.
Derek Barnett recorded his 31st career sack, bringing him only one short of Reggie White’s record of 32 set back in 1983.
The game by Dobbs was a fitting send-off for the senior quarterback. He displayed not only his incredible ability to run the ball, escape tackles, and lead an SEC football team, but also his improved ability to throw the ball downfield with accuracy.
The Volunteers move to 8-3 and go to Nashville on Saturday to take on the tough Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt will be playing for the chance to play in a bowl game.