CONYERS - It's safe to say Rockdale's rushing attack is primed for a late-season playoff push. The Bulldogs rushed for 386 yards, 201 from Kyle Tippins, in a 40-14 rout of Winder-Barrow on Friday at Reid Stadium.
The ground game got going right away on Rockdale's first offensive possession as Tavaris Williams had a beautiful run, weaving in and out of traffic and tight-roping the sideline for a 26-yard run that set up first-and-goal. Two plays later, Williams was rewarded, scoring from four yards to give Rockdale an early 7-0 lead.
The big runs continued in the second quarter. Tippins exploded into the open field, collecting 51 yards before Erik Rivas made a touchdown-saving tackle at the 26-yard line. Williams had a nice run on a counter, picking up 17 yards to the Winder 2-yard line. Isaiah Gresham powered his way in from a yard out, capping an 87-yard drive to make it 14-0.
"I see a hole, I took advantage," Tippins said.
Rockdale coach Mike Etheridge gave credit to not only the running backs, but the offensive line that helped pave the way for Tippins and company.
"I think I could've run through some of the holes," Etheridge said. "Kyle had a big game. He's a good back."
Winder-Barrow's offense finally got going on the ensuing possession, marching down the field in a little more than a minute to slice the lead in half. Quarterback Christian Davila was 5-for-7 for 88 yards on the drive, finding three different receivers, including standout Trent Demeritte three times, the last of which went for 21 yards and a score, resulting in a 14-7 game.
That was one of the few bright spots for the visiting Bulldoggs.
The hosts provided a backbreaking final four minutes of the first half to go up three scores. The Bulldogs got a 16-yard run from Tippins on fourth-and-2 that set up Gresham's 22-yard touchdown pass to Chris Smith. On Winder's first play from scrimmage following the touchdown, Davila didn't see Darius Lucas sneaking up on Demeritte, and Lucas returned an interception 21 yards for a 27-7 halftime cushion.
Rockdale had enough yardage on the ground in the first half to suffice for a full game, gathering 220 yards (nearly seven yards a carry), while nine plays went for 10 or more yards.
Early in the third quarter, Tippins took a sweep and scurried down the field for 57 yards to get into Winder territory. But the drive stalled at the 26.
Winder cut the lead to 27-14 when Demeritte finished a nine-catch, 174-yard night with a 37-yard touchdown reception. But Gresham capped a 16-play drive with a one-yard touchdown and Donta London added a two-yard score to make it 40-14.
"The kids really focused well this week," Etheridge said. "I was real proud of the kids; we had a good week."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.