Georgia Tech ends skid with 56-0 rout of Syracuse

After Georgia Tech’s first possession ended with an
interception, Paul Johnson decided to keep calling run plays as
long as they worked.

Syracuse never came close to making Johnson change his plan.

Zach Laskey had three of Georgia Tech’s seven rushing touchdowns
as the Yellow Jackets rolled to a surprising 56-0 rout of Syracuse
on Saturday.

There was little need to throw the ball when the spread-option
offense was producing 5.9 yards per carry. The Yellow Jackets had
only eight third-down plays – none in the first quarter.

”As long as you’re churning out seven, eight yards a pop, you
get behind schedule throwing it,” Johnson said, adding that by
keeping the ball on the ground ”you kind of run them into

Georgia Tech (4-3, 3-2 ACC) ended a three-game losing streak by
compiling 482 total yards, including 394 yards rushing. The Yellow
Jackets had 67 rushing attempts and threw only five passes,
including Vad Lee’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Darren Waller early
in the second half. Lee also ran for two touchdowns.

The blowout victory easily surpassed Georgia Tech’s 49-10 win
over Duke on Nov. 14, 2009 as the Yellow Jackets’ biggest margin of
victory in an Atlantic Coast Conference game.

”It was really a confidence-builder for the whole team just
because we have big expectations and we still want to do great
things this year,” Lee said. ”We wanted to get on the right foot
this week, and that’s what we needed.”

Following the interception – thrown by receiver DeAndre Smelter
on a trick play – the Yellow Jackets had few mistakes. Georgia Tech
had no penalties.

Even the hard-to-please Johnson said ”It was a complete

Syracuse (3-4, 1-2) also brought a .500 record into what was
expected to be a competitive game. Instead, it resembled Georgia
Tech’s 70-0 win over Elon, a FCS team, to open the season.

The Yellow Jackets took advantage of a blocked punt and three
Syracuse turnovers for the runaway win.

”Sometimes you get your rumps kicked,” said Syracuse coach
Scott Shafer. ”We got our rumps kicked today, and it was a great
job by Georgia Tech.”

The three straight losses forced the Yellow Jackets to take a
must-win approach to Syracuse’s first visit to Bobby Dodd

”We’re approaching every game like it’s a playoff game,”
Laskey said.

Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy had an interception and fumble
recovery to lead Georgia Tech’s defense.

Syracuse, which averaged 342.5 yards rushing in its first two
ACC games, was held to 75 yards on 26 carries and 208 total yards.
Jerome Smith had 11 carries for 43 yards.

”They did a multitude of things,” said Shafer of Georgia
Tech’s defense. ”But at the end of the day, when you’re down by 14
and 21 points early … you can’t rush the whole game.”

Orange starting quarterback Terrel Hunt completed 7 of 14 passes
for 68 yards with an interception. Drew Allen took over in the
second half and completed 6 of 15 passes for 65 yards with an

”We shot ourselves in the foot, hurt ourselves a lot,” Hunt
said. ”We could have done better.

”It’s disappointing. We’re going to flush this down the toilet
and go back to work.”

Georgia Tech backup quarterback Justin Thomas ran for 95 yards,
including a 50-yard scoring run, and Synjyn Days had a 4-yard
touchdown run. Laskey had 13 carries for 75 yards and scored on
runs of 6, 3 and 1 yards.

A procession of mistakes left the Orange with a deficit that
continued to grow during the first half.

Georgia Tech’s Chris Milton blocked Riley Dixon’s first-quarter
punt, setting up a quick 24-yard drive capped by Days’ scoring run.
On Syracuse’s next possession, Nealy’s interception set up a
71-yard touchdown drive.

Syracuse had a chance to stop Georgia Tech on a third-down
incompletion midway through the second quarter, but defensive end
Micah Robinson was flagged for a blow to Lee’s head. Two plays
after the personal foul penalty, Lee was untouched on a 3-yard run
for a 21-0 lead.

Syracuse drew nine penalties for 91 yards.

Late in the half, Syracuse’s second turnover set up Georgia
Tech’s fourth touchdown. Backup center Jason Emerich’s shotgun snap
was high over Hunt’s head. Hunt tried to fall on the fumble but
lost the ball when tackled by Jemea Thomas, who was credited with a
forced fumble. Nealy recovered the ball at the Syracuse 7, setting
up Lee’s second touchdown run.

Emerich entered the game after starting center Macky MacPherson
left with a reported upper body injury in the first quarter.
MacPherson returned in the second half.

Syracuse defensive tackle John Raymon was taken off the field
late in the first half with an apparent right knee injury.