Georgia Tech running back and 2010 Albany Herald Player of the Year Tony Zenon of Deerfield (9) pulls in a catch over Presbyterian safety J.J. Russell during the second half of their game Saturday night in Atlanta. Tech won, 59-3, as Zenon saw his first significant action of the season Saturday, finishing with four carries for 49 yards, one catch for 40 yards and one kick return for 20 yards.
ATLANTA — Paul Johnson wanted a bounce-back game.
The Georgia Tech coach was given more. With a lopsided win came Johnson’s preview of the possible future of his offense.
Vad Lee ran and passed for touchdowns in his debut, Zach Laskey ran for 116 yards and a touchdown in his first start and Georgia Tech crushed overmatched Presbyterian 59-3 on Saturday night.
Lee, a redshirt freshman, and Laskey, a sophomore, were two of six players to run for touchdowns.
“I don’t care who you play. If you get those big plays, you are doing some things right,” Johnson said.
Lee had eight carries for 101 yards. He said he had to adjust after sitting out the 2011 season.
“It was amazing,” Lee said. “It took a couple of snaps to get right and get back in football shape. I know after that long run I was winded a little bit.”
Also seeing action in the game was 2010 Albany Herald Player of the Year Tony Zenon, a former Deerfield star.
Zenon saw his first significant action of the season Saturday, finishing with four carries for 49 yards, one catch for 40 yards and one kick return for 20 yards.
Johnson was looking for improved production from his spread-option attack after the Yellow Jackets’ 20-17 overtime loss at No. 15 Virginia Tech on Monday night. The offense did more than just improve; it had one of the best games in school history.
Georgia Tech (1-1) had 712 total yards, the program’s second-highest total, including 469 yards rushing. The Yellow Jackets had a school-record 768 yards in a 66-24 rout of Kansas in 2011.
Laskey was one of three new starters on offense. The sophomore’s 56-yard run on the Yellow Jackets’ third play was his first career touchdown.
“It’s pretty special,” Laskey said. “I knew coming into the game I had a chance to make some big plays. The O-line did everything right and we just executed. … I’ll always remember that.”
Lee ran the offense for a series midway through the first quarter and grabbed the spotlight in the second half. He had a 1-yard scoring run, an 82-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Greene and then a 79-yard run to set up a score — all in the third quarter.
“I wanted to get some reps to the young guys,” Johnson said. “I wanted them to get some reps in both halves, and we did. Last week is not the place to put a guy in that hasn’t played.”
Johnson said Laskey “did some good things, but he has to work on his blocking.”
He called the play of his quarterbacks “OK” but “spotty at first.”
“Certainly they had some big plays, both of them,” Johnson said.
Presbyterian, a Division II team until 2007, had only 243 yards. The Blue Hose avoided the shutout when Aaron Mayes kicked a 30-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining.
Lee and Synjyn Days shared time with starting quarterback Tevin Washington.
Washington completed 7 of 11 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, adding nine carries for 97 yards and a touchdown.
The win could have been even more lopsided. Washington, Days and Charles Perkins each lost fumbles for the Yellow Jackets.
Laskey had a 56-yard touchdown run, Washington had a 58-yard scoring run and Days scored from the 3 in the opening quarter. Washington threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Robert Godhigh in the third quarter, and Broderick Snoddy scored from the 2 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Matt Connors’ 3-yard run with 3:52 remaining capped the scoring.
Washington’s 58-yarder was the longest of his career.
Presbyterian (1-1) was stopped on two runs from the Georgia Tech 1 in the second quarter. Lance Byrd, who ran for 80 yards, fumbled after crossing the Georgia Tech 10 in the third quarter.
The Blue Hose were coming off a 45-10 win over Brevard College, but coach Harold Nichols said his Football Championship Subdivision team played better in the loss to Georgia Tech.
“We did some good things, improving from week one to week two, and that was something we wanted to do,” Nichols said. “You’ve got to give credit to Georgia Tech. They’re an FBS bowl team, they’ll be in the top 20 and probably go to a bowl again this year.”
Lost fumbles by Washington and Days hurt Georgia Tech in the second quarter. Days lost the ball when trying to reach across the goal line with about 4 minutes remaining in the half.
Safety Brandon Leston returned the fumble 91 yards to the Georgia Tech 9, but the Blue Hose could not score. Georgia Tech’s defense held on two plays from the 1. After Presbyterian quarterback Tamyn Garrick was stopped on a third-down keeper, Byrd lost 2 yards on fourth down when hit by linebacker Anthony Harrell and a crowd of Yellow Jackets.
Presbyterian’s only other scoring chance of the half ended when linebacker Brandon Watts, who had a deflected pass at the line earlier in the series, blocked Mayes’ try for a 44-yard field goal.
Garrick completed 11 of 28 passes for 83 yards and one interception. Kaleb Griffin took over for Garrick in the fourth quarter and completed 2 of 6 passes for 15 yards. Chad Sanders was the quarterback for Presbyterian’s final possession, but did not attempt a pass.
“We were a victim of big plays and some missed tackles,” Nichols said. “Their guys got out there and they’re so fast you can’t catch them. … They’re a big-play offense, and they took advantage of some matchups and did a nice job with that.”
Georgia Tech wore blue jerseys for the first time since Nov. 13, 2010 — a 35-10 home loss to Miami.
Actual attendance appeared to be well below the reported total of 41,678.