ATLANTA -- Jordan Yates threw four touchdown passes, and Georgia Tech beat Kennesaw State 45-17 on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
In was the Owls' first matchup with a Power Five program.
Georgia Tech (1-1) scored on its first three drives of the game -- and on one of Kennesaw State's -- as it handed the Owls (1-1) the second-worst defeat in their seven-year history. Only a 45-13 loss to Coastal Carolina in 2015 was worse.
It also dropped Kennesaw State to 0-3 all time against Football Bowl Subdivision programs, after previous losses to Georgia State and Kent State.
Georgia Tech's defensive touchdown may have been the most painful to Kennesaw State because it was trailing 7-0 after Yates' 4-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Mason. The Owls then methodically moved the ball down the field and appeared poised to tie the game.
That is when Georgia Tech's Jordan Domineck got his hand on a Xavier Shepherd pitch. The defensive lineman picked up the ball on a bounce, picked up a blocking wall and headed down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown return.
Instead of a possible 7-all tie, it was suddenly 14-0 Yellow Jackets.
"We were moving the ball. We just couldn't finish what we were doing," Kennesaw State's coach Brian Bohannon said. "That was critical, because we had a nice little drive going. You are finding a way to get some yards and keep the chains moving. But that was a huge play for them. (Domineck) made a heck of a play.
"If you flip it and we find a way to go get points, you don't know what the momentum swing of the game is going to be, but that's football. That's what happens in games like that."
After a 31-yard field goal by Brent Cimaglia put Georgia Tech up 17-0, Kennesaw State took the ensuing drive from its 25 to the Yellow Jackets' 29. The drive was highlighted by a 22-yard pass from Shepherd to Nykeem Farrow.
It set up the Owls' only score of the half -- a 46-yard field goal from Nathan Robertson that equaled his career long and the longest in program history.
However, Georgia Tech's Jahmyr Gibbs returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards into Kennesaw State territory, and the Yellow Jackets wasted little time converting the good field position. They moved 43 yards in seven plays and ended with another 4-yard touchdown pass, this time from from Yates to Kyric McGowan.
Yates, the nephew of former NFL quarterback and Pope High School standout T.J. Yates, became the first Georgia Tech quarterback to throw for four touchdown passes in his first collegiate start and finished the game 17-of-23 for 254 yards and the four touchdowns.
Georgia Tech took a 24-3 lead into the half and came out to begin the third quarter on a six-play, 80-yard drive. Yates' 16-yard touchdown pass to Kalani Norris made it 31-3.
Georgia Tech's six scoring drives averaged six plays and just over 2:45 apiece.
It was 38-3 when Kennesaw State finally put a couple of touchdowns on the scoreboard -- a 54-yard run by Iaan Cousins and a 39-yard touchdown pass from Shepherd to Adeolu Adeleke.
As the Owls fell behind, Shepherd spent much of his day trying to avoid the defenders who seemed to run free in the backfield, finishing with two sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
Filling in for an injured Jonathan Murphy, Shepherd finished 8-of-20 for 111 yards, the touchdown and two interceptions.
Kennesaw State finished with 272 yards of total offense, with 161 on the ground. Cousin finished with three carries for 54 yards to lead the team.
Isaac Foster saw his first action and had six carries for 45 yards, as well as a catch for 12 yards through the first quarter and a half before leaving the game. Foster re-aggravated his lower body injury that caused him to miss the opener against Reinhardt.
Georgia Tech finished with 412 yards of offense, and Dontae Smith led the way on the ground with 82 yards and a touchdown.
"We got overmatched in some areas, and it was obvious," Bohannon said. "We didn't take care of the things to take care of to give us a chance."