ATLANTA (AP) — Justin Thomas played only the first quarter for No. 16 Georgia Tech in a season-opening blowout, allowing a couple of newcomers to grab the spotlight.
Freshman Marcus Marshall ran for 184 yards and two long touchdowns in his college debut, and transfer Patrick Skov scored three TDs in his first game for the Yellow Jackets, who romped to a 69-6 victory over Alcorn State on Thursday night.
Georgia Tech scored on its first seven possessions, barely breaking a sweat against the Football Championship Subdivision school from Mississippi. The Yellow Jackets led 34-0 at the end of the first quarter, their most points in an opening period since at least 1950. The officials were already letting the clock run in the second quarter, looking to make things a little easier on the Braves.
It didn’t help much. Georgia Tech led 48-0 at halftime and never let up.
Coming off an 11-win season and a victory in the Orange Bowl, Georgia Tech began another season of high expectations with a walkover that won’t provide much of a barometer on the tougher games to come.
Thomas, the team’s star quarterback, ran for one score and passed for another before heading to the bench to watch the final three quarters.
“We did what we set out to do,” he said. “We started out fast. That’s what we expect.”
The Yellow Jackets dominated this one right from the start, finishing with 476 yards rushing. They led the nation in that category a year ago out of their lethal triple-option offense.
Marshall, the younger brother of Georgia running back Keith Marshall, scored on a 49-yard run with his first handoff and followed with a 64-yarder late in the third quarter. Both plays were nearly identical, the newcomer from Raleigh, N.C., taking a handoff over center and racing untouched down the middle of the field, no one close to him.
“It was kind of crazy,” Marshall said. “I was excited when I saw it open like that.”
His brother was pumped up, too. Keith tweeted, “1st carry Touchdown !!!!!!!! Turnup.”
Marcus Marshall did lose a fumble, which was duly noted by coach Paul Johnson.
Otherwise, the freshman made quite a first impression.
“He’s got ability,” Johnson said. “He’s got good feet. He’s got good speed.”
Skov, who transferred to the Atlanta school after graduating from Stanford, scored on runs of 3, 21 and 4 yards taking over as the starting B-back, a fullback-like role but more of a runner than a blocker in the Yellow Jackets’ scheme.
He finished with 72 yards on a dozen carries — more than he had his entire career with the Cardinal.
“It’s a new role,” Skov said. “After four years as a traditional fullback, I’d say this is a unique opportunity.”
Georgia Tech needed only five plays to jump ahead on their opening possession, continuing a trend from last season when they scored in 10 of 14 games the first time they had the ball. Thomas rolled to his right, looking to throw, then sprinted back to the opposite corner for a 13-yard touchdown, managing to touch the ball to the orange pylon just before he stepped out of bounds.
Thomas also had a 19-yard scoring pass to Micheal Summers.
Backup quarterback Tim Byerly had an 8-yard touchdown run, and third-stringer Brady Swilling even got in on the scoring, taking it in from the 1.
Alcorn State, which won 10 games a year ago and its first Southwestern Athletic Conference title since 1993, missed a field goal on the final play of the first half. But the Braves went 75 yards on the opening possession of the second half — nearly doubling their offensive output — and scored on Arron Baker’s 1-yard run.
That was it. The Braves were doubled up in total yards, 553-272.
[callout2]”Give Georgia Tech all the credit,” Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson said. “They’re an outstanding team and they proved why they’re the Orange Bowl champion and a playoff-contending team.”[/callout2]
About the only negative news for Georgia Tech was an ankle injury that knocked third-string B-back Marcus Allen out of the game in the first half. He was able to walk gingerly off the field, but there was no need to return in this one.
Marshall and Skov were more than enough.