Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns and threw a 70-yard scoring pass to Zach Laskey on Georgia Tech’s first snap, setting up an early barrage of big plays as the Yellow Jackets beat Virginia 56-20 on Saturday.
Laskey, the “B-back” who lines up like a fullback behind Washington, slipped past Virginia outside linebacker Henry Coley and then had open field for the quick-strike touchdown.
Virginia never recovered, especially when the Yellow Jackets quickly added two more big plays.
“I don’t think it really confused them,” said Georgia Tech’s Orwin Smith of the Cavaliers’ defense. “I think it just shocked them. They weren’t thinking about a B-back going out onto the flats on to the sideline. I think that play gave us more confidence the rest of the game.”
Georgia Tech’s spread-option offense overwhelmed the Cavaliers with three gains of 60 yards or longer on the Yellow Jackets’ first four plays.
After Washington’s long scoring pass to Laskey, Smith had a 77-yard touchdown run on the second play of Georgia Tech’s next possession. Washington started the third possession with a 60-yard rush to set up his 1-yard touchdown run.
Washington’s backup at quarterback, Vad Lee, added to the rout with two touchdown runs.
Washington and Lee each had 1-yard scoring runs in the second quarter as Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) rolled to a 35-7 halftime lead. The Yellow Jackets stretched the lead to 49-7 before backup quarterback Phillip Sims led Virginia to two fourth-quarter scores.
“It’s a humbling experience when you come in and get beat like that,” said Virginia coach Mike London. “When you don’t execute well on defense or offense, things like that happen.”
Virginia (2-1, 0-1) was held to 98 yards rushing. One year ago, the Cavaliers ran for 274 yards and held the ball 30 minutes in a 24-21 win over the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson made sure his players saw highlights of last year’s game, including Virginia’s sideline celebration.
“Their sideline was going crazy,” Washington said. “Our sideline looked like it had no life.”
Johnson said his players responded to last year’s loss the way he hoped.
“We challenged our guys this week and they accepted the challenge,” Johnson said. “I had a long memory from a year ago, and they did too. ... I heard a long time ago that revenge is a great motivator for those who care. They care. They were embarrassed the way we played up there a year ago.”
This time, Virginia suffered what London called “a humbling experience.”
“There’s a lot to look at,” London said. “We’re not going to point fingers or blame anybody. That’s a good football team. They ran their style of offense, and they came out ready to play.”
Georgia Tech scored 50 or more points in an ACC game for the first time since beating Wake Forest 52-20 on Oct. 14, 2000. The 56 points were the third-highest total for the Yellow Jackets in an ACC game.
“We didn’t play well; we played terribly, and that all starts with me,” said Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid. “We gave up some big plays early. We didn’t play with as much speed and intensity as we had before.”
Smith had six carries for 137 yards.
Laskey’s long touchdown came on his first career catch. He ran for 43 yards and did not return after suffering a shoulder injury in the first half. Johnson said Laskey could have played if needed.
Virginia’s first touchdown came on Michael Rocco’s 19-yard pass to tight end Jake McGee in the first quarter.
Rocco completed 15 of 25 passes for 143 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Sims replaced Rocco in the fourth quarter and threw two scoring passes — a 22-yard touchdown pass to E.J. Scott and a 1-yarder to Zachary Swanson on the final play of the game.
Sims was 6-of-8 passing for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
Another bright spot for Virginia was sophomore tailback Khalek Shepherd, who had a 72-yard kickoff return, a 22-yard catch and four carries for 33 yards.
Washington’s third touchdown run, a 12-yarder, pushed Georgia Tech’s lead to 42-7 in the third quarter. Washington sat out the remainder of the game.
With Lee at quarterback, Matt Connors had a 32-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter. The 49-7 lead gave the Yellow Jackets their most points in the series with Virginia.
Lee added a 41-yard touchdown run with 5:56 remaining.
Washington was 6-of-8 in the air for 125 yards and a touchdown. He had 11 carries for 93 yards and matched his career high with the three scoring runs.
Perry Jones, who had 149 yards rushing against Georgia Tech last year, had five carries for 15 yards.
Kevin Parks led Virginia with 13 carries for 53 yards.
Washington, who normally wears No. 13, instead wore No. 40 to honor former Georgia Tech linebacker Julian Burnett, who suffered a career-ending injury last year. A different player is wearing Burnett’s No. 40 each week.
Georgia Tech, which wore new white helmets in its first two games, was back in traditional gold headgear. The Yellow Jackets also wore gold pants for the first time this season and had new white jerseys.