Travis Henry got a chance, Phillip Fulmer got a game ball and Tennessee got back on track.
Filling in for Jamal Lewis, who sat out with a shoulder injury, Henry ran for 179 yards and three touchdowns as seventh-ranked Tennessee routed Kentucky 56-21 Saturday.
The win kept the Volunteers (8-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) in contention for one of two at-large berths in the Bowl Championship Series and eased some of the hurt from last week's 28-24 loss at Arkansas, which knocked Tennessee out of the national championship hunt.
It was the Volunteers' 15th consecutive win in the 95-game series between border-state rivals and the fourth straight in which they have scored more than 50 points against the Wildcats (6-5, 4-4).
Kentucky finished the regular season eligible for a bowl appearance, but not guaranteed an invitation. The Wildcats are among at least eight SEC teams contending for the conference's seven guaranteed bowl berths.
"In spite of the catastrophe today, we achieved our team goal," Kentucky coach Hal Mumme said. "We are bowl-eligible. We had a winning season."
Determined to erase memories of last week's loss to the Razorbacks, when they won the statistical battle but lost on the scoreboard, the Volunteers jumped ahead 27-0 with touchdowns on four of their first five possessions.
After Tee Martin's 29-yard touchdown pass to Cedrick Wilson, Henry scored on runs of 40, 61 and 13 yards.
"We wanted to come out and start fast, let our frustrations out on the football field and show we weren't down after last week," said Martin, who threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns. "Everybody thought we were coming into the game thinking about last week, but we didn't do that."
Kentucky scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to clse the gap to 27-14 at halftime. The Volunteer defense stiffened in the third quarter, though, and Tennessee scored four second-half touchdowns to put the game away.
David Martin caught a 21-yard touchdown from Tee Martin, Tee Martin scored on a quarterback sneak and freshman running back Onterrio Smith capped Tennessee's scoring with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs.
Kentucky quarterback Dusty Bonner completed 32 of 50 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted five times. Kentucky also lost a fumble, giving the Wildcats six turnovers leading to four Tennessee touchdowns.
James Whalen Jr. caught one of Bonner's touchdown passes, while running back Anthony White grabbed the other two, becoming the third player in NCAA history to finish his career with 1,500 yards rushing and receiving.
For the Volunteers, Henry was a workhorse, handling the ball on 23 of the 24 handoffs Tennessee made before he took a seat on the bench late in the third quarter.
His 61-yard dash shattered his previous career-long run of 40 yards and demonstrated the virtue of patience to Henry, who has played behind Lewis this season.
"I just told myself when my opportunity comes to just grab it," he said. "They say good things come to those who wait."
After the game, Mumme fumed about a pair of first-half pass interference calls. The first, on cornerback Kenneth Grant, allowed Tennessee to convert a third-and-7. On the next play, Henry broke his 61-yard run to put the Volunteers ahead 21-0.
On Kentucky's subsequent possession, a 42-yard catch by Derek Smith that would have set the Wildcats up on the Tennessee 1 was nullified by an offensive pass interference call. The Wildcats punted two plays later.
"We had a chance to go into halftime 27-20, but the call really hurt," Mumme said. "It was a bad call. We got two bad calls against us."
Both teams were banged up coming in. Kentucky was thin at wide receiver and in the secondary after a rash of injuries in both units, while Fulmer was without Lewis and had to move defensive players around to make up for the absences of starting linebacker Eric Westmoreland and reserve defensive back Tad Golden, as well as the limited availability of tackle Darwin Walker.
"I am really proud of our football team for bouncing back after a tough and disappointing loss," Fulmer said. "We overcame a bunch of injuries and adversity over the week."
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