ATLANTA (AP) – Vad Lee threw for two touchdowns and ran for one more in Georgia Tech’s 70-0 rout of Elon in their season opener on Saturday.
Four different Georgia Tech players ran for touchdowns in the first quarter Saturday, and the Yellow Jackets added a school-record 173 interception return yards. Georgia Tech scored 70 or more points in a game for the first time since beating Navy 70-7 on Sept. 8, 2001, the season before current Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson was hired by Navy.
It was also the largest margin of victory by an ACC school, surpassing Florida State’s 69-0 win over Western Carolina in 2008.
The template for this first-ever meeting between FBS Georgia Tech and FCS Elon was in place quickly. Georgia Tech’s first two scores were set up when the Phoenix lost a fumble on the game’s second play from scrimmage, and minutes later the Yellow Jackets blocked Elon’s first punt.
Reserve linebacker Tyler Marcordes returned an interception 95 yards for a score to put the Yellow Jackets up 42-0 at halftime.
Yellow Jacket safety Chris Milton returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, and linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days had a 24-yard interception return in the first half.
Thirteen Yellow Jackets had at least one carry, and reserve quarterback Justin Thomas led the way with 53 rushing yards as Georgia Tech rushed for 368. Zach Laskey added 51 rushing yards, and Lee had 49 in his first start. The sophomore quarterback also completed 7-of-11 passes for 189 yards.
Elon’s best scoring chance came when John Gallagher missed a 47-yard field goal try as time expired in the first half. Junior quarterback Mike Quinn completed 17-of-30 passes for 136 yards and three interceptions before he was pulled late in the third quarter.
The Phoenix, who were playing just their sixth game ever against an FBS opponent, won the coin toss and elected to receive. On the second play, Georgia Tech safety Jamal Golden forced a fumble by Elon running back Tracey Coppedge, and Yellow Jackets cornerback Jemea Thomas recovered.
Four plays later, running back Deon Hill swept around right end for a 14-yard score.
Minutes later, Milton blocked a punt by Elon’s David Petroni, and when David Sims bulled over from the 1-yard-line a few plays later, the rout was on.
The Yellow Jackets took a 35-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter when Sims scored on a 59-yard pass from Lee.
Georgia Tech, which has ranked in the top four nationally in rushing in each of Johnson’s previous five seasons at the school, started the second half off with a 13-play, 75-yard drive – all runs – for a 49-0 lead after Lee scored from 2 yards.
Backup quarterback Justin Thomas added a 44-yard scoring run in the final quarter for the Yellow Jackets.
Elon’s next game will be next Saturday at home against West Virginia Wesleyan. Georgia Tech has a bye next weekend and will open up ACC play at Duke on Sept. 14.
Check out the highlights from the game, courtesy of The ACC Digital Network: