Sept. 7, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
There’s a certain ease and comfort that comes with playing at home.
Even as part of the visiting team, Tony Zenon felt it and ran with it all afternoon on Saturday, scoring twice to match his career touchdown total, in Georgia Tech’s 38-21 win over Tulane. Zenon’s heroics helped the Jackets spoil the inaugural game at Yulman Stadium in front of packed house of 30,000.
It was a happy homecoming for the redshirt senior A-Back and New Orleans native, who moved to Georgia in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, shortly before his 14th birthday.
“It felt really good,” said Zenon, who ran for 62 yards on eight carries (7.8 yards per rush) in front of a cheering section of approximately 40 family and friends. “My teammates wanted to get me into the end zone and they did a great job blocking for me. It felt good scoring in front of my family and having them see me play.”
It was pretty obvious that Zenon was as fired up as the Tulane crowd was to open up its new digs.
“Oh yeah, you could see his excitement as we entered the stadium, pregame,” said right guard Shaq Mason. “You could just see how excited he was. I’m glad he came out and performed like he wanted to.”
Zenon came up big, starting in the second quarter, when he ran for 63 yards on seven carries, to spark the offense.
He broke off a 41-yard run on a first-and-10 play from the Tech 27, with the Jackets down 21-14. That drive ended in a missed field goal, but Tech would get another chance on a short field three plays later, when linebacker Demond Smith intercepted Tulane QB Tanner Lee, putting the Jackets in business at the Green Wave 30.
Two plays later, on first-and-10 at the 19, Zenon started in motion right, stopped then followed QB Justin Thomas back left. He took the pitch from Thomas, turned the corner and had nothing but green grass. He put on the burners, went airborne at around the two and plunged into the end zone.
“It was real big, said Zenon, who led all rushers in yardage at the break. “We needed to score to get the momentum going our way. My teammates, they blocked for me and made my job easy. I just had to run into the end zone.”
Zenon followed his teammates into the end zone again — again making it look easy — to cap the Yellow Jackets’ opening drive of the second half and push the 24-21 halftime lead to double digits. On third and goal from the two, he took a pitch from Thomas, sprinted left, and again raced to into end zone untouched. The score gave Tech a 31-21 lead and pretty much put the Jackets into the clear.
Zenon has 146 yards of total offense in Georgia Tech’s first two games in 2014, only 44 fewer than he had all last season. But after the game, the only number that mattered was two, as in 2-0.
“We have to take one game at a time, but it’s always good to be 2-0 and get the `W’ on the road,” he said.
Forty also was on his mind.
“Having my family here, it’s great,” he said. “We’re flying home tonight but I’m going to try to spend some time with my family.”
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