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

oblivion.”

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

victory.”

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

Stadium.

”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

interception.

”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.