Herman McKenzie, D.J. Rivers and Brandon Baynes took turns ripping through the St. James defense Friday night.
The three running backs combined for a whopping 504 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in leading Tallassee to a 49-17 Class 4A victory.
“They’ve got weapons to burn,” St. James coached Jimmy Perry said. “It’s hard to defend.”
McKenzie cranked out a game-high 233 yards and two touchdowns, Baynes had 130 yards and a game-high three touchdowns and Rivers put up 141 yards and two scores for the eighth-ranked Tigers (7-1, 5-1 Class 4A, Region 2).
“The luxury that we have is that we’ve got a quality football team that has a good offensive line, and we’ve got three talented individuals,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “I’ve said this before. One is better than none, two is better than one and three is better than two, but all three of them complement each other. It’s hard to key on them.”
A year ago, McKenzie put up a school-record 319 yards on the Trojans (2-6, 2-4). On Friday, the junior tailback broke the 200-yard mark on an injured ankle as he scored on touchdown runs of 28 and 75 yards.
“I felt great,” McKenzie said. “My team went out there and did what they were supposed to do on defense and offense, and I’m thankful for this big win.”
Rivers needed just five carries to gain 100-plus yards as his touchdowns went for 72 and 58 yards.
“D.J. Rivers has become one of our team leaders,” Battles said. “Our team takes the heartbeat of how he is. If he’s in a good mood and having a good day, we have good practices. He’s really stepped up.”
However, Baynes may have had the biggest touchdown of the night.
After Coleman Taylor’s 28-yard field goal put St. James up 3-0 early in the first quarter, Baynes returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown.
“It’s just disheartening because we worked so hard the last two weeks, and we’ve been burned on the kickoff return,” Perry said. “I’ve got to come up with another way to teach them how to do it. It was disheartening, but that was one play. We probably had 140 plays in this game. That was just one. We’ve just got to get better.”
The score was the first of 28 consecutive Tallassee points. The Tigers led 28-10 at halftime.
“That was real big,” Rivers said. “That lifted momentum. The team got going, and we were on a roll.”
Baynes was coming off a five-touchdown performance last week against Alabama Christian.
“I’m feeling pretty good about how decent I’ve been playing,” Baynes said. “The line’s been doing really great. The best they have all year in these last two games. They complement me a lot.”