Saturday, October 5, 2013
Williams carries BC past Army
By Jack McCluskey
NEWTON, Mass. -- There must be something about this Army defense.
The last time Andre Williams faced the Black Knights, he set a career high with 191 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. That performance included a 99-yard TD run.
But it came in a losing effort.
So when Williams took the field on Saturday afternoon, the Black Knights in their white uniforms on the other side of the line, he wanted to make sure this performance came in a win.
Andre Williams has rushed for 768 yards in five games.
“I’m just so glad that we got the opportunity to face Army,” Williams said after the Eagles’ 48-27 win.
For a time this week, that was in doubt. The government shutdown caused by a budget impasse in Congress led the Defense Department to temporarily stop service academy teams from competing, and led to speculation that the Black Knights wouldn’t be allowed to travel to Chestnut Hill for the game.
And while BC coach Steve Addazio said he never addressed the government shutdown with the team and most of his teammates said they didn’t spend much time thinking about the game not being played, Williams admitted it weighed on his mind.
“I’ve really been thinking about last year’s Army game all week, and then the controversy about whether or not the game was gonna be played was really playing with my heart,” he said. “And when we really found out the game was gonna be on it was just a really good feeling and I wasn’t gonna let the opportunity pass.”
Williams certainly seized the opportunities in front of him Saturday. The 6-foot, 227-pound senior carried the ball 30 times for 263 yards and five TDs, both career highs. The five TDs tied Montel Harris for the BC single-game record, set in 2009 against NC State.
The 263 yards left him one shy of tying Harris’ single-game record of 264, also set in that 52-20 win over NC State. He was stopped for a loss of a yard on his final carry, after his second-down carry for 3 yards set up a third-and-2, meaning he had a share of the record for the few seconds between plays.
“I told him earlier in the week, ‘We’ve just gotta rush for over 200 yards,’” Addazio said of Williams. “We’ve got a legitimate offensive line now guys. We do. They’re good. They blocked well and he ran really, really hard. So I was happy for Andre.”
Addazio, who took Williams out of the game late in the fourth quarter with the Eagles up 21 points and the back a yard away from the mark, said he didn’t know about the record until someone told him as he left the field.
“I don’t think he’s really worried about it, either,” Addazio said. “It’s all about the team, man. It’s just about the win, the team. And those things are all nice, but with team success individual honors will come.”
Williams, who ripped off TD runs of 34, 1, 37, 3 and 34 yards, didn’t seem concerned about it, either.
“When you can execute your offense as effectively as we did today, the records come,” he said. “You don’t really have to chase them.”
His first score of the day may have been the most important.
After Army used a beautifully executed flea-flicker -- QB Angel Santiago handing off to Terry Baggett, catching the pitch back from Baggett and finding Xavier Moss running free up the middle for a 75-yard TD -- to retake the lead 10-7, Williams and the Eagles answered.
With a first-and-10 at the Army 34, the BC offensive line sealed the left edge and Williams ran untouched up the left side -- picking up a key block from his roommate Alex Amidon -- and rumbled into the end zone to put the hosts back in front.
“You gotta be able to run the ball when you play this team. You gotta be able to run it,” Addazio said. “When we were struggling early defensively, I thought the offense did a great job of keeping that pace and trying to stay out ahead of that thing. And that’s what we did.”
And while they did get beaten by the flea-flicker and by the triple option on an 80-yard TD run by fullback Larry Dixon, the Eagles were able to stay in front of the Black Knights’ ground-based, possession-dominating offense in large part because of their workhorse running back.
“I said earlier in the week, ‘Man, I don’t care if we win by one or whatever, just find a way to win,’” Addazio said. “Well, I thought we went out and we played physical.”
The Eagles finished with 523 yards of total offense, 320 of them on the ground. Their 48 points is the most by a BC team since Harris’ record-setting game against NC State in 2009, when they scored 52.
“It was a great team win for us,” Addazio said. “All the respect in the world for Army, and what those kids do, who they are and what they’re all about. I wish them nothing but success.”
With the win, BC has surpassed its win total from the disastrous 2012 season. There are still seven games to go, and if BC can go just 3-4 the rest of the way it will realize its preseason goal of becoming bowl eligible.
The Eagles know they still have a long way to go, though, starting with a tough test at No. 3 Clemson next week. They’ll need another big performance from their workhorse if they’re going to have a chance against the Tigers in Death Valley.
To date, it’s not an exaggeration to say the Schnecksville, Pa., native has been the best back in the ACC.
Williams entered the game with a conference-best 505 yards through four games. He had more than half his season total Saturday alone, breaking his previous career high of 204 yards set in Week 2 against Wake Forest.
Could it be that he’s still getting better as the season moves along?
“Every year I feel like I get a little bit wiser, a little bit heavier and a little bit stronger,” he said. “And this offense that we’re running right now is just brutal and physical, and that’s the way I play. I’m just so happy that it turned out the way it did.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.