Andre Williams led Boston College in rushing with a career-high 263 yards on 30 carries, which was 1 yard shy of tying Montel Harris’s school record set in 2009. Williams also led the team in scoring with a career-high five touchdown runs, which matched Harris’s single-game record.
The only thing the bruising 6-foot, 227-pound senior running back from Schnecksville, Pa., did not lead the Eagles in was the fight song.
Williams left it to senior right tackle Ian White, who helped clear the path on many of his carries, to do the honors in a euphoric rendition of “For Boston’’ in BC’s locker room following Saturday afternoon’s redemptive 48-27 victory over Army before a homecoming crowd of 33,128 at Alumni Stadium.
“[Coach Steve] Addazio has a rule that it’s always a senior offensive lineman, but I would’ve put him up there,’’ White said of Williams, who leapfrogged Darnell Campbell (2,096 yards) and Fred Willis (2,115) for 11th place on BC’s all-time rushing list with 2,340 yards.
“He’s doing what he does,’’ White said. “It’s how he plays, and against a team like this, we knew if we get him in the secondary and if we get him on the corners and safeties, he hits big plays, and he did what he was supposed to do and he had a heck of a day.’’
Williams helped the Eagles not only improve to 3-2 — surpassing the win total of last year’s 2-10 campaign — but also avenge a stinging 34-31 setback last year at West Point, where he had a then-career-high effort of 191 yards and two touchdowns, including a 99-yard score, go for naught.
With this game in peril of being postponed or canceled because of the government shutdown, Williams said he had some concern about getting the opportunity to redeem himself and his team.
“I had really been thinking about last year’s Army game all week,’’ Williams said. “And then the controversy about whether the game was going to be played was just really playing with my heart.
“When we found out that the game was going to be on, it was just a really good feeling and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass.’’
Addazio made no secret of the fact that Williams was going to have to carry the day if the Eagles intended to possess the ball and keep Army’s wishbone offense, which ranked second in the country in rushing offense, off the field.
“I told him earlier in the week, he has to rush for over 200 yards,’’ Addazio said of Williams, who eclipsed the mark for the second time this season (he had 204 against Wake Forest on Sept. 6). “That’s what we want to do.
“You’ve got to be able to run the ball when you play this team. You’ve got to be able to run it.’’
But on BC’s first play from scrimmage, the Eagles came out throwing, when Chase Rettig (11 of 13, 203 yards, 1 TD) fired a quick-hitting out pass to Alex Amidon (5 catches, 122 yards), who turned upfield, stumbled at midfield, and raced 68 yards to the Army 7.
It set up BC’s first score, a 3-yard TD toss from Rettig to David Dudeck that answered Daniel Grochowski’s 38-yard field goal and gave the Eagles a 7-3 lead with 6:59 left in the first quarter.
Eleven seconds later, Army responded with a quick strike of its own when quarterback Angel Santiago hit Xavier Moss on a 75-yard flea-flicker that gave the Black Knights a 10-7 lead.
After Williams scored the first of his five TDs on a 34-yard run to give BC a 14-10 lead, Army wrested it away again with a withering 15-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 5:39 and culminated with Larry Dixon’s 3-yard TD run, good for a 17-14 lead with 14:40 left before halftime.
But BC answered right back. A 46-yard kickoff return by Myles Willis set up a six-play, 51-yard drive capped by Williams’s 1-yard run to help the Eagles take a 21-17 lead.
When BC’s defense, which surrendered 427 yards total offense, finally forced the Black Knights to punt, the Eagles seized the opportunity, as Williams scored his third TD on a 37-yard run off a counter play.
Williams’s run made it 28-17 after he was sprung by a rare double-pancake block by White, who obliterated linebackers Thomas Holloway and Marcus Poling.
The Eagles increased their lead to 31-20 on Nate Freese’s 49-yard field goal just before intermission.
Army pulled within 31-27 when Dixon burst up the middle for an 80-yard TD run on the Black Knights’ first play of the second half, but the Eagles responded with a gritty second-half effort, scoring 17 unanswered points.
Williams capped a 93-yard drive with a 3-yard TD that made it 38-27, then Freese converted a 28-yard field goal to increase it to 41-27, before Williams tied the scoring record with his fifth TD run, a 34-yarder.
The only thing that seemed to elude him was Harris’s single-game rushing record, which he had tied on his penultimate carry of 3 yards before getting dropped for a 1-yard loss on his last carry that left him 1 yard shy.
“I didn’t know I was that close until the end of the game when Coach Addazio mentioned it,’’ said Williams, who has totaled 454 yards and seven TDs in his last two games against the Black Knights.
“When you can execute your offense as effectively as we did today, the records come. You don’t really have to chase them.
“I’m just so glad that we really got another opportunity to face Army.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.