By Michael Cunningham
When Georgia Tech is erupting for big plays and Bobby Dodd Stadium is roaring, it can feel like the Yellow Jackets will never stop scoring.
Virginia is the latest foe to find out what that’s like, and it didn’t take long. Tevin Washington passed to Zach Laskey for a 70-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to start Tech on the way to a 56-20 rout on Saturday.
“I think it more shocked them than anything,” Tech A-back Orwin Smith said. “They weren’t thinking about a B-back going into the flats and down the sidelines. I think that play just gave us confidence for the rest of the game.”
Laskey’s touchdown was one of three plays of 60 yards or more in the first quarter for Tech. Smith ran 77 yards for a score and Washington’s 60-yard run set up his one-yard TD run for Tech’s third touchdown of the period.
The Jackets had plenty of big plays in their previous game but those came against Presbyterian College, an outmatched FCS opponent. This time they did it this time against an ACC opponent that beat them last season and that was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Coastal Division.
In Tech’s season-opening defeat at Virginia Tech, the Jackets had just three plays of 15 yards or more with a long of 22. The Jackets had seven plays of at least 15 yards in the first half against Virginia and finished with nine.
Laskey’s touchdown was reminiscent of 2011, when Tech scored on the first play in each of its first three games. Last season, Smith scored on a 5-yard run following a fumble by Western Carolina in the season opener, Washington hit Tony Zenon for a 73-yard touchdown pass against Middle Tennessee State and Smith opened with a 95-yard run for a score against Kansas.
Laskey ran out of the backfield and started to run a shallow route to the left. When Virginia sophomore linebacker Henry Coley reacted, Laskey suddenly turned up field to haul in Washington’s soft pass.
“That was just luck,” Tech coach Paul Johnson quipped. “It’s just the matchup, get [Laskey] on the linebacker. [Coley] played the out route and [Laskey] ran a wheel route. It was a great throw by Tevin and a great route by Zach.”
Smith scored on Tech’s second play of its next drive. He took a pitch from Washington, got lots of space to run thanks to a cut block by Robert Godhigh and followed wide receiver Jeff Greene’s sideline block to the end zone.
“As soon as I caught the pitch I saw Robbie Godhigh with a tremendous block. I saw Jeff on the corner. All I could think about was Jeff don’t turn around. Because Sometimes when the receivers hear the fans they slow down and look back. He said all he knew was I was behind him running. He made a great play to shield off the corner.
Washington’s 60-yard run was set up when he faked a pitch and zipped through the middle of Virginia’s defense. Washington faked out Cavaliers safety Anthony Harris after about 10 yards and broke free for the big gain.
The Jackets led 35-7 at halftime. It was the most points scored in a half against a conference foe since Tech had 35 points against Wake Forest in 2000.
Jackets reserve quarterback Vad Lee added another big play after halftime when he scored on a 41-yard run.