NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tauren Poole rushed for 99 yards and the game-clinching touchdown and Tennessee kept its slim bowl hopes alive under first-year coach Derek Dooley with a lackluster 20-10 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
Vanderbilt (2-9, 1-7 Southeastern Conference) threatened with a late touchdown, but Tennessee (5-6, 2-5) sent the Commodores to their sixth straight loss when Poole took advantage of a failed onside kick to rip off a 28-yard touchdown run with 1:11 remaining.
Tennessee won its third straight game for the first time since 2007 and must beat Kentucky next Saturday to clinch bowl eligibility.
Tyler Bray threw for 232 yards, but struggled for the first time since taking over as starter three weeks ago with two interceptions. That didn't stop the Volunteers from beating the Commodores for the fifth straight time and 27th of 28 in the series.
As expected in a game featuring the SEC East's two one-win teams, neither squad was particularly sharp.
Bray got off to a fast start, and early on, looked like the fabulous freshman who guided Tennessee to 102 points in wins over Memphis and Mississippi by throwing for 648 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
He completed nine of his first 10 passes and gave the Volunteers a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter with a a 15-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter in the first quarter and a 20-yard scoring pass to Denarius Moore.
He killed Tennessee's next two drives with interceptions, though, then had trouble connecting with his receivers the rest of the way, finishing 16 of 27.
Tennessee also lost a touchdown when defensive tackle Malik Jackson's late hit on Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith wiped out Gerald Williams' interception return for a score.
While the offense struggled to find consistency, the defense took advantage of several Vanderbilt miscues.
The Commodores missed out on points thanks to a missed field goal and a blocked field goal in the first three quarters, then lost a chance to tie the game late when a wide receiver stepped out of bounds before catching a touchdown pass and Jared Funk was intercepted at the goal line a few plays later.
Vanderbilt quarterbacks threw two interceptions and were 20 of 41, continuing a season-long trend of completing less than 50 percent of their passes. Starter Larry Smith was pulled late in the game for Funk after completing just 11 of 27 passes for 76 yards.
Gerald Jones caught six passes for 80 yards for the Volunteers.