Joshua Dobbs went out in style.
The senior quarterback recorded over 400 yards of total offense to power Tennessee to a 38-24 victory in the 2016 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Friday in Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.
Dobbs and the Vols won their third-straight bowl game for the first time since 1994-1996.
“Just really, really proud of these guys,” Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones said. “This is a special group of kids up here. It’s a special football team and I’m really proud of our seniors. Like I said on the stage, this football program has won 15 of its last 19 games and this program just won its third consecutive Bowl game. First time it’s been done since ’94, ’95 and ’96 and these guys have meant so much to us.”
Dobbs finished with 409 total yards of offense and four touchdowns. For his performance, he was named the MVP of the game.
Along with Dobbs’ special day, the Vols saw a new sack record set by Derek Barnett in the fourth quarter. The previous record had been held by Tennessee legend Reggie White.
“It was a great feeling,” Barnett said I can’t really describe it. I just know it happened really fast. It was a blink and then he was on the ground.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Kelly gave the Vols the lead early in the second quarter when he turned the corner and sprinted down the left sideline for a 28-yard touchdown run to cap a four-play, 73-yard drive.
On Tennessee’s next possession, Dobbs extended Tennessee’s lead to 14-0 when he ran up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown. That score was Dobbs’ 10th rushing touchdown of the season. He joined Florida’s Tim Tebow and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott as the only three quarterbacks in SEC history to record 15 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in multiple seasons.
Nebraska got on the scoreboard with 1:36 remaining in the first half when Fyfe connected with Reilly down the right sideline for a 38-yard touchdown.
Tennessee answered with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown run by Dobbs.
The Vols took a 21-7 lead into halftime. UT had 308 yards in the first half to Nebraska’s 118. Tennessee gained 145 yards on the ground through two quarters, averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
Tennessee placekicker Aaron Medley hit a season-long 46-yard field goal with 5:52 remaining in the third quarter to push UT’s lead to 24-7.
Nebraska responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive. Reilly made an acrobatic nine-yard touchdown catch, landing one foot in the far left corner of the end zone for his second score of the game.
Dobbs set a new Tennessee single-season record for quarterbacks by rushing for his 12th touchdown of the season and third of the day with a three-yard score that completed a nine-play, 76-yard drive early in the fourth quarter. After the extra point, UT’s lead grew to 31-14.
Nebraska’s Drew Brown made a 45-yard field goal on the Cornhuskers’ next possession to cut the Vols’ lead to two scores with 12:06 remaining.
Tyler Byrd fumbled on the following kickoff and Nebraska capitalized with a nine-yard touchdown run by Fyfe that cut UT’s lead to 31-24 with 10:02 to go.
Dobbs sealed the win when he hit Malone for a 59-yard touchdown strike with 8:45 remaining. The Tennessee defense shut down the Cornhuskers in each of their next three possessions.
With under four minutes to go, Barnett sacked Fyfe for a nine-yard loss on 3rd-and-26 from the UT 43 to set the new Tennessee career sacks record at 33.0.
Kelly had 70 yards on 15 carries for the Vols, while Alvin Kamara had seven catches for 46 yards. Cortez McDowell and LaTroy Lewis had seven total tackles apiece to lead the Tennessee defense.
As a team, Tennessee limited Nebraska to just 61 yards rushing.