The physical nature of Army’s 34-31 victory over Boston College last year in West Point, N.Y., was painfully evident to Army coach Rich Ellerson the next day when he toured the team’s training room.
“Gosh, I don’t know about a breakthrough, but it was a hard-fought game, I know that,’’ said Ellerson, referring to Army’s dramatic come-from-behind victory, the first of only two wins the Black Knights had in 2012.
Former quarterback Trent Steelman helped snap an eight-game losing streak when he rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns, including the winner on a 29-yard run with 45 seconds left.
“It was a dramatic and hard-fought game and we were fortunate to win. But the next day, we came into the training room and it looked like we had been in a bus accident or something.’’
Andre Williams, the bruising BC running back who rushed for a then-career-high 191 yards, was largely responsible for exacting that physical toll.
The rugged, 6-foot, 227-pound senior from Schnecksville, Pa., will be back to drive a BC ground-and-pound game that roughed up Florida State to the tune of 200 rushing yards in last Saturday’s 48-34 loss to the eighth-ranked Seminoles.
Williams ran for 149 yards, the most Florida State has allowed an opposing ballcarrier since 2010, to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark for his career. He moved into 13th place among BC’s all-time rushers with 2,077 yards on 452 attempts in 35 games. He needs only 39 yards in Saturday’s homecoming game against Army to leapfrog Darnell Campbell (2,096) and Fred Willis (2,115).
“I think it’s a great accomplishment to get, but I really just want to reach 1,000 yards in a season,’’ said Williams, who this season has rushed 103 times for 515 yards, including a career-high 204 yards in a 24-10 home win over Wake Forest Sept 6.
“That’s really the goal I’m looking at right now.’’
Williams’s more pressing objective would be to help the Eagles snap a two-game losing streak while avenging last year’s stinging setback, in which he rushed for a pair of touchdowns, including a 99-yarder.
“It was just an ugly loss, knowing how well we were doing on offense,’’ said Williams, whose rushing effort was complemented by the passing of quarterback Chase Rettig, who completed 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown.
“We were running the ball well. I had a really big run last year and it came down to the wire. And that just made the loss more bitter at the end.’’
Asked how he felt after his marathon 99-yarder, Williams said, “I felt good. I was just thinking, ‘Get to the end zone. Don’t get caught.’ ’’
And Ellerson is prepared for the same kind of physical play from BC.
“They’ve got a lot of the same guys,’’ he said. “But they’re a very different team.’’
That was evident to Ellerson after he watched tape of BC’s gritty effort against Florida State. It was clear to the Army coach the Eagles have adopted the traits of coach Steve Addazio.
“They found the personality of the team and they found a personality that they like,’’ said Ellerson.
“You have to be ready to strap your pads on tight and go, because that’s what they want to do. When they’re in that personnel set — with two, three tight ends and one back — on those plays, if you can’t handle that part of the game, it’s going to be a long day at Rock Ridge.’’
Addazio, conversely, was concerned about Army’s ability to keep possession with its triple-option Wishbone offense. Ellerson’s 2-3 team rebounded from a 25-11 loss to Wake Forest Sept. 21 with a 35-16 victory vs. Louisiana Tech last weekend, when the Black Knights, the nation’s second-leading rushing offense, rolled up a season-high 414 rushing yards.
“We may look to attack them in a lot of different ways,’’ said the BC coach. “The thing you have to be careful about this week is when you have the ball, you have to hang onto the ball, because when they have the ball, they do hang onto the ball.
“What happens is, you get a lot fewer cracks at it with their style of offense. You have got to choose wisely. Too many incompletes and they get the rock back again. That’s never good against a Wishbone team.’’
Given that, it may be prudent for BC to hand the ball to Williams as early and as often as possible, to tenderize the defense with a steady peppering of ground and pound.
“I think that they like it, but it’s just hard to sustain,’’ Addazio said of his team’s physical approach. “When teams play us, they feel the effects of that the following weeks as well. Those coaches will tell you that and those players will tell you that. That’s the best respect you can get after those games, when they tell you that.
“They look at you like, ‘Wow, you really went after us.’ So it takes a toll on those teams, but it takes a toll on us as well.’’