Rashawn Binns might want to look into spelling his name like it sounds – B-e-n-z, as in Mercedes. Because the kid drives like a million bucks.
Binns’ smooth and powerful rushing attack helped power a solid Rockdale County ground game in a 28-6 win over Madison County in the season opener for both teams on Friday night.
The senior running back finished with 101 yards and two touchdown runs in the first half alone, adding 10 more yards afterwards on a couple of carries before being rewarded with some well-earned rest for most of the remainder of the night.
"I just had great blocking and tried to keep my feet moving and do what I do," Binns said.
He wasn’t the lone shining star for an impressive "stable" of Rockdale backs – as coach Michael Etheridge often refers to them as – as multiple horses carried the Bulldogs’ carriage on this night. All the big backfield dogs showed up in the first half for Rockdale (1-0), staking the team a lead that would hold the rest of the night.
"We were going to do more, but with our line playing the way they did, we didn’t have to do more than give our backs the ball," Etheridge said. "I think we showed what we can do tonight. The problem is that we only have one football for all these backs."
Binns capped a statement-making drive at the start of the game with a 6-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game. Less than four minutes later after a kickoff return for a touchdown pulled the Red Raiders (0-1) within 7-6, another senior tailback, Kyle Tippins, ripped off a 25-yard rushing score to put the Bulldogs up 14-0.
It would stay that way until midway through the second quarter thanks to a defensive effort led by the relentless defensive lineman Grady Jarrett. The junior, who finished the night with four sacks, helped Rockdale hold Madison County to double-digit total yards in the first half.
"They tried to double team me out there, but I was real focused and my hard work paid off," Jarrett said.
With 7:13 to play in the first half, the leader of the offense, quarterback Isaiah Gresham paid Jarrett and the defense back, capped a lengthy drive with a 6-yard touchdown scamper on a naked bootleg to the right to make it 21-6. The defense gave Rockdale the ball right back, and Binns hit the promise land again after making himself the workhorse on a long drive just before half, scoring from one yard out to put the Bulldogs ahead 28-6.
The Bulldogs would keep the rushing attack up in the second half to eat the clock up, but sloppy play from both quarterbacks helped make the halftime score the final as well.
Senior running back Tavaris Williams finished the game with 100 yards on the ground, and Tippins ended up chipping in 66 yards and his touchdown run.
But this night would belong to Binns. Or, as some might say, "The Benz."
If Chad Johnson can be Ochocinco, why can’t Rockdale’s running back be Rashawn "Mercedes" Binns.
"I like that name, just call me the big body, baby," Binns said with a laugh after the game.
The fleet of Rockdale running backs try to roll on in the team’s home opener against Salem Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Etheridge knows, after seeing what he did tonight, that his boys are ready to go.
"I think we match up good with anybody," Etheridge said.