ATLANTA -- There’s still plenty of football left this season, but it appears the previously unproven Georgia Tech running backs are going to work out just fine.
The Yellow Jackets introduced three productive B-backs and six A-backs into the rotation Thursday and showed no drop off from a year ago when the Yellow Jackets led the nation in rushing.
The No. 16-ranked Yellow Jackets scored the first seven times they had the ball, rolled up 553 yards in total offense and dominated Alcorn State 69-6 before a spirited crowd of 49,196 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“Marcus Marshall can hit some big plays. He’s got ability,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “I thought Patrick Skov did some good things. He got some tough yards. Both of those guys played about like I thought they would.”
Never miss a local story.
It was such a blowout that starting quarterback Justin Thomas was only asked to play the first quarter. While he was in the game, the Yellow Jackets scored five times, and Thomas threw for 54 yards and one touchdown and ran for 2 yards and another score.
“We did about what I thought we’d do,” Thomas said. “The Bs had a good game, especially with it being the first time being out there. They showed some good things.”
The big story was the play of the new faces in the backfield, particularly B-backs Skov and Marshall. Skov, a graduate transfer from Stanford, started and carried the ball 12 times for 72 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall, a freshman from Raleigh, North Carolina, ran eight times for 184. Marcus Allen, the third-string senior, added 21 yards on three carries before getting dinged up.
The A-back spots were well-manned, too. Broderick Snoddy, a senior who is coming back from a broken leg, rushed three times for 51 yards and was denied a touchdown because of a video replay. The others had their chance too and didn’t miss a beat: Qua Searcy, Clinton Lynch, Isiah Willis and all were productive when given a chance.
Backup quarterback Tim Byerly played the second and third quarters and didn’t waste the opportunity. The senior rushed seven times for 42 yards and one touchdown and completed his only pass attempt for 23 yards.
Georgia Tech wasted no time scoring on its first possession. The touchdown came on a nifty run by Thomas, who headed toward the right side, saw there was nothing there, reversed his field and beat a defender to the corner for a 13-yard score.
It got ugly from there. Alcorn State’s offense, one of the most prolific in the FCS division a year ago, couldn’t even get a first down. As a result, Georgia Tech kept scoring. Skov scored on a 3-yard run, carrying three defenders with him over the goal line. Willis, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship in fall camp, scored on a 1-yard run. Thomas connected with Micheal Summers for a 19-yard touchdown and Marshall scored on a 49-yard run, as the Yellow Jackets ended the first quarter with a 34-0 lead.
Georgia Tech added two more scores in the second quarter. Skov scored on a 21-yard run, and Byerly ran it in from the 8 to give the Yellow Jackets a 48-0 halftime lead.
“Give Georgia Tech credit,” Alcorn State head coach Jay Hopson said. “They executed well. We had a few missed executions where we didn’t take the dive and they popped it. They make you pay for it. That’s the one thing about the triple option is if you don’t do your job, and you mis-execute, they’re going to hit you.”
The Yellow Jackets scored two more times in the third quarter. Skov got his third touchdown on a 4-yard run and Marshall broke through the middle of the line for a 64-yard score.
Alcorn State gave Georgia Tech a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Punter Haiden McCraney lost the snap and fumbled. The ball was recovered at the 5 by Shawn Kagawa. The Yellow Jackets inserted Brady Swilling at quarterback and he scored three plays later on a 1-yard run.
The Georgia Tech defense was pretty good, too. The Yellow Jackets applied non-stop pressure from the start and caused four fumbles. The first-team defense allowed only 81 yards in the first half and didn’t play in the second half.
“I thought our defense did a good job,” Johnson said. “(Alcorn) was 0-for-a-long time. They converted a few in the second half. All in all it was pretty good.”
Alcorn State didn’t get a first down until the second quarter and scored its only points in the third period when the Braves took the second-half kickoff and drove 75 yards in 10 plays, with Arron Baker scoring on a 1-yard run.
Highly touted Alcorn State quarterback John Gibbs Jr., the Southwest Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2014, was hounded all night by pressure led by senior Adam Gotsis. He completed 8-of-22 passes for 50 yards. He rushed seven times for 51 yards.