LEXINGTON, Ky. (WVLT) -- As Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson fell to the turf two yards short of the end zone, the Tennessee Volunteers ended a four-hour, 45-minute saga with one reality finally in their grasp:
For the third time this decade, the Vols are SEC East champions.
Erik Ainge threw seven touchdowns, including three in overtime, to lead Tennessee to a 52-50 four-overtime victory over Kentucky Saturday in Lexington, as the Vols extended their streak over the Wildcats to 23 games and clinched a spot in the SEC Championship next Saturday in Atlanta.
In the Vols' fourth overtime period, a personal foul at the end of the previous session forced Tennessee to start at the 'Cats 40 instead of the usual 25-yard-line. But on the first play, Ainge found a wide-open Quentin Hancock over the middle for a 40-yard touchdown, then threw to Austin Rogers in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Kentucky marched back down the field, and Derrick Locke scored a three-yard touchdown to make the score 52-50. But as Woodson rolled out to throw, he was unable to find a receiver and was tackled from behind by the Tennessee defense, ending the four-overtime epic.
Woodson, who also threw seven touchdown passes, led the Wildcats back from a 24-7 halftime deficit, passing for more than 350 yards after halftime. Kentucky tied the game as time expired with a field goal by Knoxville native Lones Seiber, ushering in the overtime period.
The 'Cats finish the regular season with a 7-5 record, 3-5 in the SEC. Tennessee ends the 2007 season at 9-3, 6-2 in the SEC, just good enough to beat out Georgia for the top spot in the division.
Tennessee and LSU kick off next week in Atlanta; the game will be telecast on CBS.
A detailed game summary follows.
Dan Williams blocked Kentucky's 35-yard field goal attempt and Tennessee returned it into UK territory before being tackled, ushering in the third overtime period. All UK had to do was make a field goal after stopping the Vols on their overtime try with an interception.
Erik Ainge's passed to Gerald Jones for a 10-yard score in the first overtime, and Daniel Lincoln's extra point tied the game at 38, ushering in a second overtime.
Knoxville native Lones Seiber tied the game at 31 with an 18-yard field goal as time expired, capping a 90-yard drive in which Kentucky threw the ball into the end zone three times, to no avail.
Tennessee was unable to get the first down, going three-and-out and pooching the ball to the Kentucky nine, where the Wildcats took over.
Jerod Mayo decked the Kentucky receiver, knocking the ball into the air, where Ricardo Kemp plucked it and slid down to give Tennessee the ball at the Kentucky 40 with 4:30 left in the game.
Tennessee was unable to gain a first down on its drive, and Kentucky has the ball at its own 31-yard-line with five minutes left in the game, trailing 31-28.
The Wildcats have outscored the Vols 21-7 in the second half.
Kentucky drove inside the Tennessee ten-yard-line, then scored on an Andre' Woodson pass to Steve Johnson to get within three points, 31-28, with 6:11 left in the game.
Woodson was knocked out of the game for a play after being hit by Robert Ayers, but re-entered and threw the touchdown on third and six at the Tennessee eight-yard-line.
The Kentucky drive spanned 66 yards on eight plays and took only 2:28 off the clock.
Andre' Woodson passed to tight end Jacob Tamme for two key plays, including a 40-yard grab by Tamme during which he wrangled the ball away from Vol defender Eric Berry.
A five-yard pass ended the drive and got Kentucky within a 31-21 deficit with one second left in the third quarter.
Erik Ainge found a wide-open Jeff Cottam in the end zone for a three-yard touchdown pass to put the Vols ahead, 31-14, with 1:31 remaining in the third quarter.
Demonte Bolden recovered an Andre Woodson fumble at the Kentucky 30, where Tennessee took over with 3:20 left in the third quarter. First-down passes to Quentin Hancock and Chris Brown put the Vols inside the Wildcat five, where, on second and goal, Ainge found a wide-open Jeff Cottam in the end zone for the score.
Andre' Woodson capped a 14-play, 80-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dicky Lions to lessen Tennessee's lead to 24-14 with 9;34 left in the third quarter.
Erik Ainge hit a diving Quintin Hancock in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left in the first half to give Tennessee a 24-7 lead over Kentucky.
Kentucky intercepted an Erik Ainge pass late in the first half, but Xavier Mitchell picked off Andre' Woodson's throw on the next play and Tennessee took over at the Kentucky 17.
Then Ainge hit Quentin Hancock in the end zone for the 15-yard score on second down with 17 seconds left in the first half.
At halftime, Ainge is 16-of-21 for 271 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. His Kentucky counterpart, Andre Woodson, is only 7-for-14 for 78 yards, a touchdown and a pick. Tennessee has sacked Woodson three times, including two sacks by cornerback Ricardo Kemp.
A win today would send Tennessee to the SEC championship game in Atlanta.
Ricardo Kemp sacked Andre' Woodson on third and five to once again smother a Kentucky drive and give the Vols the ball at their own 34.
Daniel Lincoln hooked a 45-yard field goal attempt just inside the right goalpost to put Tennessee ahead, 17-7, with 8:57 left in the first half.
On Tennessee's first play following a Kentucky touchdown, Erik Ainge passed to a streaking Lucas Taylor for a 35-yard diving catch to put the Vols inside Wildcats territory.
Two plays later Arian Foster sliced through the Kentucky defense for a first down at the UK 30. On the run, Foster hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the year, becoming the 13th Tennessee running back to reach 1,000 yards during a season.
But the Tennessee drive stalled when Erik Ainge's pass to Chris Brown came short of the first down, bringing Lincoln onto the field for the 45-yard field goal attempt.
Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson found Steve Johnson in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown to cut Tennessee's lead to 14-7 with 12:12 left in the second quarter.
Daniel Lincoln missed a 47-yard field goal just short, ending an eight-play drive at the Kentucky 30.
After Tennessee held Kentucky to a three-and-out, the Vols took over at their own 31. On second down Chris Brown initially appeared to make an acrobatic one-handed catch, but the call was overturned as replays indicated the ball hit the ground.
Ainge passed to Lucas Taylor for a 22-yard first down completion to the Kentucky 31, then threw two incomplete passes and a short swing pass to Arian Foster to set up fourth down at the Kentucky 30.
Erik Ainge passed to Lucas Taylor on a wheel route, and Taylor made the cornerback miss en route to the end zone for an 18-yard score to give the Vols a 14-0 lead with 4:18 left in the first quarter.
Erik Ainge hit Brad Cottam on second down for a 59-yard pickup down to the Kentucky 21 with five minutes left in the first quarter. Then, just two plays later, Ainge hit Lucas Taylor on a wheel route, and Taylor dodged the cornerback and darted in for an 18-yard touchdown.
Kentucky drove the length of the field, netting three first downs before Ellix Wilson sacked Kentucky quarterback on third and six for an 11-yard loss to the Tennessee 38 and out of field goal range.
A pooch punt gave the Vols the ball at their own 37.
Tennessee took over at its own 35 following a Kentucky punt, and on third down Ainge hit Josh Briscoe to get inside Kentucky territory. The Vols' drive stalled on third-and-14, when Ainge threw to Lucas Taylor for a 10-yard pickup. Tennessee decided to go for the first down, but the Ainge swing pass to Arian Foster netted only one yard, and Kentucky took over at the 34.
Antonio Wardlow stuffed the Kentucky kickoff return at the Wildcat 16, but a second-down pass interference penalty on Ryan Karl set the 'Cats up at their own 31-yard-line.
The Vols held the Wildcats after that, forcing a punt and taking over at their own 35.
Erik Ainge threw across his body to a wide-open Arian Foster, who caught the pass and rumbled 65 yards for a Tennessee touchdown on the first play of the game.
A kickoff out of bounds set the Vols up at its own 35 after the Vols won the toss and elected to receive.