ATLANTA — As Georgia Tech throttled Elon 70-0 on Saturday in Bobby Dodd Stadium, the Yellow Jackets were like a broken record: nearly every time they had the ball, they scored.
Sometimes, even when the Phoenix had it, Georgia Tech still scored.
“Obviously, when you win by a score that large you did some things well,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. “This went as well as you could ever hope.”
The Yellow Jackets were dominant, totaling 557 yards and averaging 9.1 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee passed for 189 yards and two scores in his first start. He also rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Georgia Tech (1-0) found the end zone on eight of its first nine offensive possessions before running out the clock to end the game. The Yellow Jackets also mixed in interception returns for scores of 95 and 54 yards by Tyler Marcordes and Chris Milton, respectively, and the home team had a school-record 173 interception return yards.
Even Georgia Tech’s mistakes resulted in scores. The last touchdown, a 44-yard run by reserve quarterback Justin Thomas to cap a 99-yard drive with 7:30 left in the game, was wrong depending on who you ask.
“(Before) that last touchdown, I told my man (Thomas), ‘If you break in the clear, take a knee,’” Johnson said. “And he just kind of smiled and said, ‘Come on, coach. I haven’t played in two years.’ You’ve got to let them play to some degree.”
Georgia Tech did most of the playing in the first quarter. On the game’s second play, Yellow Jacket safety Jamal Golden knocked the ball loose from Elon back Tracey Coppedge.
Cornerback Jemea Thomas recovered to set up a 14-yard scoring run by Deon Hill.
Milton blocked Elon’s first punt to leave the Yellow Jackets at Elon’s 35-yard-line. A few plays later, Georgia Tech fullback David Sims went in from 1-yard out.
In the first quarter, Hill, Sims, Zach Laskey and Charles Perkins scored on runs for the Yellow Jackets.
Elon junior Mike Quinn had a rough day in his first start. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 136 yards and three picks.
“We’re going to let this one go over our heads,” he said. “This is probably the best learning experience for us because we won’t face anyone as good (in the Southern Conference).”
New Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof, a linebacker at Tech from 1982-85, ran nearly as fast as any player as he escorted linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days down the sideline after his first quarter pick for a 24-yard return.
“He was pretty jacked up,” said Yellow Jackets linebacker Brandon Watts. “He was probably more excited than we were.”
After Marcordes’ pick six, the Phoenix would never rise from the ashes of a 42-0 deficit.
Georgia Tech, ranked in the top four nationally in rushing in each of Johnson’s five seasons at the school, rushed for 368 yards and an average of 7.4 per carry. Thirteen players had at least one carry.
Lee completed 7-of-11 passes, yet when the Yellow Jackets took a 49-0 lead on the first possession of the second half, all plays were runs. Johnson left many starters in early in the second half because quick strikes had left many of his players without many reps.
“You’ve got some things that you want to try to work on . . . the first series, we wanted to establish the (fullback) because we really hadn’t done that,” Johnson said. “The last series (Lee played), we were planning on letting him play one more series to throw the ball to try to work on that.”
Elon coach Jason Swepson asked officials for, and was granted, a running clock in the fourth quarter. If there was consolation to be found for the Phoenix after their sixth game against an FBS opponent, it was the $250,000 check Georgia Tech gave Elon to play.
“The positive thing from this game is that we had a lot of young kids play college football for the first time,” Swepson said. “Great eye-opening experience for those young men.”