ATLANTA -- After an up-and-down season a year ago, the Georgia Tech defense got a confidence-boosting start to the 2013 season on Saturday in a 70-0 win over Elon University at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
It was the first Georgia Tech's first shutout since a 27-0 win over Duke on October 4, 2008.
The Yellow Jackets allowed just 253 yards of total offense, forced four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble), and returned two interceptions for touchdowns in defensive coordinator Ted Roof's return to his Alma matter.
"It was big boost for us," said linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days, who had an interception.
"It's a confidence boost for us definitely coming off of last year's season. I'm just excited to see what we can do next."
Hunt-Days' interception came in the first quarter just after Elon had finally moved the ball across midfield.
Fellow linebacker Tyler Marcordes also came up with a big pick in Yellow Jacket territory, as he intercepted Mike Quinn at the Tech five-yard line and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown.
"We were in a zone and I just played my coverage,"Marcordes said.
"The quarterback threw it right to me and after that guys made blocks to help me get it all the way down."
Just before the end of the half Elon missed a 47-yard field goal to keep the shutout intact.
In the third quarter it was Chris Milton who came up with the third pick of the day for the Yellow Jackets, returning it 54 yards for his first-career touchdown.
"The bottom line is they didn't score," head coach Paul Johnson said.
"That's what happens when you get turnovers like that.
"The game is out of reach really the offense didn't have to do anything."
Thomas scores in debut
While Vad Lee threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in his first-career start, redshirt freshman Justin Thomas also looked sharp at quarterback in his collegiate debut.
Thomas didn't attempt a pass but was Tech's leading rusher with 53 yards on five carries, including a 44-yard touchdown with 7:30 left in the game.
The score capped off a nine-play, 99-yard drive that melted 5:17 off the clock.
With a 63-point lead, Johnson had initially told Thomas to take a knee if he broke open a big run.
"I told my man if he broke it into the clear to take a knee," Johnson said.
"He just kind of smiled at me and said 'Come on coach, I haven't played in two years.'"
Georgia Tech completed a pass on the first play of the season for the first time since 2006 when Lee connected with redshirt freshman Michael Summers for a seven-yard game.
Summers finished the game with three catches for a team-high 79 yards.
Georgia Tech set a school record with 173 return yards on interceptions.
Tattnall Square Academy grad DeAndre Smelter made his football debut on Saturday.
The two-sport star, who also is a pitcher for the baseball team, played in both halves but wasn't targeted a single pass.