Williams saves best for last BC home game
November, 16, 2013
By Jack McCluskey | ESPNBoston.com
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- When the Eagles run onto the field at Alumni Stadium through the tunnel beyond the north end zone, they're watched over by four of the greats in Boston College history.
The banners that hang behind the grandstands in that corner are emblazoned with the likenesses of William Green, Mike Cloud, Pete Mitchell and Luke Kuechly.
Though the real estate is limited, and the current occupants all earned those spots, Andre Williams made an argument Saturday that maybe one day his likeness should be hanging over that tunnel.
In his final home game, Williams had the biggest performance yet in an epic senior season that's rewritten the record books.
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsAndre Williams capped another record-setting day with a 34-yard touchdown run.
"He's the leading rusher in America. He stands for what's right in college football," coach Steve Addazio said after Williams led the Eagles to a 38-21 win over NC State to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. "He's certainly without a doubt one of the more dominant players in college football. And he's an unselfish guy who realizes that he has a great offensive line in front of him and realizes that it's a team game."
The 6-foot, 227-pound senior said during the week he wasn't trying to top his performance from last week.
But he did anyway.
Seven days after a 30-carry, 295-yard game at New Mexico State, needing 256 yards to set a BC single-season rushing record, all the senior back did was rush 42 times for 339 yards and two touchdowns.
He ran through defenders. He ran around defenders. And when he got in the open field, he ran away from defenders.
On one play in the second half, he bowled NC State corner Josh Stanley over backward before being swarmed by five or six Wolfpack defenders. When the pile dissipated and it was only Williams on the ground, Stanley and linebacker Robert Caldwell reached down and gave him a hand up.
Then Caldwell slapped him on the helmet, the ultimate sign of respect.
"He's a great back and a hard runner, and he had a pretty physical offensive line," Caldwell told reporters after BC piled up its most rushing yards in a game (420) since 1973. "I give him props. He's leading the nation in rushing yards, so he's obviously the man when it comes to running."
Williams broke his one-week-old BC record for rushing yards in a game, set an ACC single-game record (breaking John Leach's record of 329) and blew past Cloud's single-season rushing record (1,726 yards in 1998) to finish the game with 1,810.
It was Williams' eighth game with 100-plus yards and fourth game with 200-plus in 2013. It was only the fifth 300-yard game in ACC history. The 339 yards is the most on the ground in a Football Bowl Subdivision game this season.
As if that wasn't enough, he tied his single-game record for attempts with 42.
Before every game, Williams said he prays for the resolve to be able to play 60 minutes. So despite being banged up -- Addazio said he's been dealing with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder for a while -- and having already matched his BC single-game record of 295 yards with the Eagles up 10 and less than two minutes to play, he was back out there late.
"It was my last game in Alumni Stadium. The emotions I was feeling before the game and during the game were just crazy," Williams said. "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 just so much on the line. Everything that we wanted was right in front of us."
With less than a minute to go, facing a second-and-11 at the NC State 34, Williams got the call one last time. It should come as no surprise what happened next.
The big back burst through the left side, shed one tackler and streaked down the field and into the end zone to put a fitting cap on an unbelievable performance.
After he crossed the goal line, Williams slowed and gave his head a little shake, as if even he couldn't believe the day he had.
Williams said he was inspired by his memories of Montel Harris setting the BC career rushing record in 2011, by his parents being on hand for senior day and by the goals the Eagles set in preseason -- win the opener and become bowl eligible -- being within reach.
His performance, in turn, inspired some media members to put "Andre Williams" and "Heisman Trophy" in the same sentence postgame. It wasn't a perfect outing, two fumbles marring an otherwise masterful performance, but no one on the BC sideline was complaining.
ESPN Stats & Information After rushing for an ACC-record 339 yards on Saturday, Andre Williams moved to the top of the career chart.Asked if Williams should be in the conversation for the Heisman, quarterback Chase Rettig said yes.
"I think he's a great player," Rettig said. "Obviously I think he could be with those guys, no doubt. I think a lot of that stuff has to do with winning and kinda being in the spotlight, and that's totally understandable. If you watch some of his games against some of the bigger teams we've played, he had great games against them.
"That's for other people to decide, but we know that he's our Heisman."
What more can the Eagles ask of Williams?
"I wouldn't be surprised if he goes for more next week," right tackle Ian White said. "His motor doesn't stop."
And neither will the Eagles. Not with two games left in the regular season, two more chances to improve their résumé for the bowl game selectors.
"Obviously we're as hungry as we were a week ago today to get our seventh win right now," Addazio said. "And we're moving forward. This is not our defining moment. It's a great moment, but it's not our defining moment."
History was made Saturday, Williams leaving a mark in his final game in Chestnut Hill that may never be equaled.
But luckily for Eagles fans, he's not done just yet. After Williams' outstanding output the past two weeks, Harris' career rushing record sits just 348 yards away.
"We have to stay focused and realize that there's more on the table to go for," Williams said. "There's a lot of things that we can really go after."
There's always more history to be made.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.