BC’s Andre Williams rushes for ACC record in win
There was a pause with about 2½ minutes remaining in Boston College’s 38-21 victory over North Carolina State Saturday afternoon when an announcement was made at Alumni Stadium. Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher, had just set the school’s single-season rushing record on a 65-yard fourth-quarter run, surpassing Mike Cloud’s 1,726 in 1998.
His work apparently done after carrying 38 times for 295 yards, which matched the single-game rushing record he set last week at New Mexico State, Williams was beckoned by the appreciative crowd of 31,262 to make a curtain call.
After he was mobbed by his offensive line, Williams obliged, took a few steps out onto the field, and took a deep bow. But Williams’s gesture proved premature.
He still had plenty more left in his tank, much to the chagrin N.C. State’s defense, which was powerless to stop the rugged 6-foot, 227-pound senior from carrying 42 times for an ACC-record 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 34-yard score with 51 seconds left that punctuated BC’s all-important sixth win (6-4, 3-3 ACC) and triggered a euphoric storming of the field by BC’s students and fans.
“It was a great moment for me,’’ said Williams, who overcame a second-quarter right shoulder injury and a pair of fumbles, the last of which was recovered by Alex Amidon in the end zone for a touchdown that gave BC a 28-14 lead with 8:01 left.
“I remember my sophomore year when Montel [Harris] broke the record [for career rushing yards: 3,735],’’ Williams recalled. “I was just so proud of him that he was able to get on the field and things despite all the adversity that we were facing in the past years. He’s really been a motivation for me.
“My mom and dad were on the field today, they were a motivation for me. It was my last game in Alumni Stadium and the emotions I was feeling before and during the game were just crazy,’’ Williams added. “It really wasn’t hard to get back on the field and get another run out there even though I was hurting, even though I was tired. None of those things really mattered, because there was so much on the line.’’
Williams seemed to get stronger as the shadows grew longer.
“He’s a workhorse,’’ coach Steve Addazio said of Williams, who now has 1,810 yards on the season. With 3,372 career yards, Williams needs 364 to pass Harris. “I think that any time you have a dominant football player that is all about the right things and stands for what’s right in college football then that’s what the Heisman Trophy represents.
“There are some tremendously worthy candidates out there, but why not Andre Williams?’’
As far as his teammates are concerned, there is no question Williams, who had not rushed for more than 584 yards in any of his three previous seasons but gained 634 in his last two games combined, was worthy of Heisman consideration.
“That’s for other people to decide,’’ said quarterback Chase Rettig. “We know he’s our Heisman.’’
There would not have been much of a debate from anyone on N.C. State’s sideline, especially after Williams seemed to knock a defender out of the game in each of BC’s first three possessions.
“Let me tell you something, this kid is a tank when he runs,’’ said senior left tackle Matt Patchan. “It’s the most exciting thing to be on the field, blocking somebody, and looking up and seeing him hit somebody. He’ll power through it and get extra yards. He’s just a beast, I love it.’’
Senior cornerback Dontae Johnson, who was the first to depart the game in the first quarter after being injured trying to arm-tackle Williams, was spotted on the field postgame sharing a long embrace with Williams.
“He’s a great back and a hard runner, and he had a pretty physical offensive line,’’ said N.C. State linebacker Robert Caldwell, who had a game-high 17 tackles. “On our end, we just missed a lot of tackles. I give him props. He’s leading the nation in rushing yards so he’s obviously the man when it comes to running.’’
Williams is the reason the Eagles managed to achieve their modest goals this season, first winning their opener against Villanova and then becoming bowl eligible.
Now, it seems, the Eagles are in position to land any of the five ACC postseason slots available to them, but most likely the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., or Sun Bowl in El Paso, both on New Year’s Eve.
“It meant everything to us, because that was our main goal coming into the season, to become bowl eligible,’’ said Williams, whose first TD, a 17-yarder with 15 seconds left in the first, expanded BC’s lead to 10-0 after Nate Freese converted a 25-yard field goal, the first of his three on the day. “To be able to do it in our last game at Alumni Stadium, it was just an unreal feeling.
“Afterwards, being able to celebrate with our entire student body was something I’ve never seen before at BC. I’m going to remember it forever.’’
It was one last hurrah no one was likely to forget.