Big homecoming for Tech’s Tony Zenon

NEW ORLEANS - As he celebrated in the end zone with his teammates, Georgia Tech A-back Tony Zenon locked eyes with his stepfather Felonius Osborne. The two pointed at each other. Osborne wasn’t hard to miss. Osborne was sitting in the front row of the end zone with about 40 family members and friends who had come to Yulman Stadium to celebrate a homecoming for Zenon.

Zenon did his part, putting forth a career day in the Yellow Jackets’ 38-21 win over Tulane. Zenon, who grew up in New Orleans but moved to Albany after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, ran eight times for 62 yards with two touchdowns and a long run of 41 yards. All were career bests.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Osborne said. “It really has. It’s a real good feeling.”

Zenon has since returned to New Orleans to visit family, but Saturday’s game was the first time many members of his family had seen him play since his youth. Coach Paul Johnson featured him heavily as the Jackets repeatedly attacked the Green Wave’s defensive perimeter. He showed off his speed and quickness in the second quarter, taking an option pitch from quarterback Justin Thomas and beating Green Wave defenders down the sideline before cutting it back for his 41-yard gain.

One possession later, he took another option pitch from Thomas and sped 19 yards to the end zone. He continued the strong play he showed in the preseason that earned him a starting spot in the backfield.

“Tony, he’s from New Orleans, so to get him in the end zone in front of the home crowd, that was big,” A-back Charles Perkins said. “He made some big-time plays. I was happy to be out there blocking.”

It was indeed his day. A mishandled pitch from Thomas resulted in a turnover inside the Tech red zone, but Tulane kicker Andrew DiRocco missed a field goal on the ensuing possession. He also scored both of his touchdowns in front of his cheering section.

Zenon said his lasting memory would be “getting a ‘W’ and having my family here. I’m glad we got the win and I get to see my family after this.”