Former Deerfield star and Herald Player of the year Tony Zenon scored his first touchdown for Georgia Tech on Saturday, catching a 73-yard TD pass in Georgia Tech's 49-21 win against Middle Tennessee State.
MURFRESSBORO, Tenn. -- Welcome to college football, Tony Zenon.
And the end zone.
Georgia Tech knew it could catch Middle Tennessee State in man-to-man coverage when it scored on the opening play from scrimmage in Saturday night's 49-21 victory.
Tevin Washington, who threw for two long touchdowns and ran for two more, hit Zenon down the left sideline for a 73-yard TD pass 14 seconds in the game. The quick strike on Zenon's wheel route, started a 28-0 onslaught to spoil MTSU's centennial celebration.
"Coach (Paul) Johnson told me we were going to run it that whole time, so I was just trying to get in there and just focus on getting open and catching the ball and trying to get in the end zone," said Zenon, the former Deerfield star and 2010 Albany Herald Player of the Year who scored his first career TD. "It still hasn't sunk in yet. Once I get on the plane I'll start thinking about it."
One week after rolling up more than 600 yards and 60 points over Western Carolina, the Yellow Jackets (2-0) proved their triple option attack could score quickly through the air or grind it out on the ground. Georgia Tech finished with 596 total yards, 382 rushing, in pounding the Blue Raiders (0-2) before a record Floyd Stadium crowd of 30,502 in the home-opener.
After the opening TD, Tech then went to the ground for all 17 plays on its next possession to score on a 98-yard drive after MTSU had downed its first punt at the 2.
"I knew they were tired, because we were tired," Tech running back David Sims said. "I think we had four or five drives where we had 10, 12, 13 plays, and that's good for us, because it lets them know we can do it."
Tech took 9:25 off the clock in that drive, had five different ball carriers and made six first downs before Washington scored on a 2-yard keeper for a 14-0 lead.
"We're real flexible," Washington said. "We can do a lot of different things with the ball. It just builds the confidence within the team and within our offense."
Washington left in the third quarter with 5 of 8 passing for 202 yards, including two first-half TD strikes of 70-plus yards.
"It was a team focus for the offseason and really day to day in practice. We've got to have a passing game," Washington said. "We got in a lot of situations last year where we needed to throw the ball and we weren't that good at it. And we're just trying to make sure this year that when we have to throw the ball we give ourselves a chance."
Sims and backup quarterback Synjyn Days led Tech's rushers with 91 yards each.
MTSU started out at its second possession at its 40 when the kickoff went out of bounds, and then Logan Kilgore hit Anthony Amos for a 20-yard pass on first down. But the Blue Raiders' drive stalled at the Tech 29 and Alan Gendreau missed wide left on a 46-yard field goal attempt.
The Yellow Jackets then went back to the air and scored again on one play, this time needing 11 seconds on Washington's 71-yard pass play to Stephen Hill.
"I prefer when the offense does those long drives, those long five-minute drives and give us a break," Tech defensive end Izaan Cross joked. "But when they're scoring it makes it a lot easier for us to just relax and try to get a couple of stops and get them back on the field."
Hill was hit by defenders around the 32, but broke loose for the 21-0 lead at 2:12 in just the first quarter.
Middle Tennessee got good field position when Eric Russell returned the kickoff 39 yards to the MTSU 44. And the Blue Raiders even converted on a fourth-down when Benjamin Cunningham ran the fake punt for 18 yards. Two plays later, however, Isaiah Johnson picked off Kilgore's pass at the Tech 10.
This time, Georgia Tech mixed up the pass and the run to build the 28-0 lead at just 10:45 in the second quarter. Washington connected with Hill for a 43-yard hookup, and Roddy Jones and Sims had 14-yard carries on the seven-play drive before Washington kept on the option for a 7-yard TD run and a 28-0 advantage.
"When you play a Georgia Tech, you can't give up big plays like we did tonight," Blue Raider Coach Rick Stockstill said. "If we could've made a field goal and scored one more touchdown in the first half, things would've looked a lot better."
Johnson also came up with a fumble recovery on the Blue Raiders' next drive. But Tech had to punt for the first time seven minutes before halftime.
Middle finally put together an 11-play scoring drive to get on the board 3:12 before halftime. D.D. Kyles kept dragging defenders into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown run.
Georgia Tech was the third Atlantic Coast Conference visitor to MTSU stadium since the Raiders moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1999. But the Yellow Jackets were the first to blow out MTSU, with Virginia winning by only two in 2007 and Maryland losing in '08.
Middle Tennessee was celebrating its 100-year anniversary with a birthday cake unveiled at halftime of the home-opener.
Tech had rolled up 242 yards of offense in the first quarter and had 350 by intermission.
The Yellow Jackets tacked on another touchdown midway through the third quarter when Orwin Smith's 2-yard TD run capped an 11-play, 6-minute drive that covered 85 yards.
Georgia Tech put in Days on the next series, and he directed two touchdown drives. The redshirt freshman ran 10- and 28-yard keepers before scoring on a 5-yard run with 1:27 left in the third.
MTSU got another score with 13:06 to go in the game on Cunningham's 1-yard run. After both teams swapped fumbles, Kilgore lateraled to Andrew Banks who threw to Cunningham for a 27-yard gain to the Tech 11.
Days and Tech added another TD at 3:16 to go on his 1-yard keeper, and MTSU's backup quarterback Jeff Murphy threw an 18-yard TD strike to Sancho McDonald in the final minute.
Georgia Tech, which returns home to face Kansas next Saturday, was among those receiving votes in last week's Associated Press poll.