- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - What was billed as the return of football to the Tulane campus turned into a successful homecoming for Georgia Tech’s Tony Zenon Saturday.

Zenon and Tim Byerly each rushed for two touchdowns to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 38-21 victory over the Green Wave in the first game at Yulman Stadium.

Zenon, a fifth-year senior running back who had 45 family members in attendance, was an eighth-grade student at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. While his immediate family relocated to Albany, Georgia, dozens of Zenon’s relatives returned to the city.

“When I scored, I waved (to my family),” said Zenon. “It was great (to return home). A lot of people hadn’t seen me play.”

In addition to doubling his career touchdown total, Zenon finished with career highs in rushes (eight) and rushing yards (62).

Zenon had a 19-yard touchdown run in the second quarter - the first of 24 consecutive points by the Yellow Jackets - and a 2-yard scoring run in the third quarter.

Byerly, the Yellow Jackets’ short-yardage quarterback, had 1-yard touchdown runs in the first and fourth quarters.

The other Georgia Tech touchdown came on a 10-yard interception return by linebacker Quayshawn Nealy in the second quarter.

Georgia Tech (2-0) rushed for 342 yards and converted on 10 of 12 third downs, while the Yellow Jacket defense held Tulane scoreless in the second half.

“I think we probably improved in some areas,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, “but I told them, this is not the standard.

The defense, he added, “bent a little, but they didn’t give up any points.”

Miscues by Tulane (0-2) set up four of Tech’s five touchdowns - three interceptions by Tulane redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee and a blocked punt in the fourth quarter.

“We have some young players here,” said Tulane coach Curtis Johnson. “We made some mental mistakes and did some little things wrong … that we have to clean up.”

A sellout crowd of 30,000 was on hand for the first on-campus home game for Tulane since 1974, a year before the Superdome opened.

The Tulane fans had plenty to cheer early. On the first play from scrimmage, Tulane linebacker Eric Thomas sacked Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas and forced a fumble, which defensive end Royce LaFrance scooped and return to the 8-yard line.

Three plays later, Lee found Justyn Shackleford for a 12-yard touchdown to give the Green Wave a 7-0 lead with just 88 seconds elapsed.

Tech responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, using all of the ground elements of its triple-option attack. Byerly came in for the first time on third-and-goal and covered the final yard to tie the game at 7-7.

The Green Wave regained the lead on the next possession with a 75-yard drive of its own, capped by a 24-yard end around by freshman wide receiver Teddy Veal.

The Jackets got even again when Nealy stepped in front of a Lee pass and returned it for a touchdown to make it 14-14 with 11:10 left in the second quarter.

“I didn’t see the throw because the tackle was so big,” Nealy said. “All I saw was the tip of the ball and I broke on it.”

Lee and the Green Wave offense answered quickly with a deep slant to Xavier Rush, who outran the Georgia Tech secondary for a 61-yard touchdown to give Tulane a 21-14 lead with 9:38 left in the half.

Georgia Tech’s second interception of Lee - by Demond Smith - set up another tying touchdown. Zenon raced around left end for a 19-yard score with 2:51 left in the half to make it a 21-21 game.

Tech took its first lead of the day, 24-21, on a 46-yard field goal by Harrison Butker as time expired in the half, moments after a failed fourth-down try by Tulane.

“We were going to try to block the punt,” Paul Johnson said, “then they sent the offense back out. That (field goal) really helped us gain momentum.”

Tulane got the ball to start the third quarter, but Lee’s third interception - this time by Lawrence Austin - set up a 76-yard, 12-play drive by the Jackets that took 6:42 off the clock, capped by Zenon’s second score.

A blocked punt by Matt Connors and a 46-yard return by Kyle Travis set up the Jackets at the Tulane 1. Three plays later, Byerly scored for the second time to give Tech its final score.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide