Before the long plane ride to El Paso, Texas, and the bus ride from El Paso to Las Cruces, N.M., before the fans filled the stands and the officials flipped the coin, before the ball was kicked to start a wild, back-and-forth game, Andre Williams knew what the difference was going to be in Boston College’s matchup with New Mexico State.
It was him.
“I pride myself on being able to wear down defenses and staying strong in the fourth quarter so we can make big plays,” the senior running back said after practice on Wednesday.
Williams made himself look particularly prescient late in Saturday’s game.
With the Eagles on the ropes against a game Aggies team led by former BC offensive coordinator Doug Martin, backed up deep in their own territory with just 4:53 to go and the game tied at 34, the 6-foot, 227-pound back already had carried the ball 27 times for 165 yards.
In other words, he had the defense exactly where he wanted it.
On a first-and-10 at the BC 20-yard line, Williams took a handoff up the middle through a gaping hole opened by the O-line and raced 80 yards untouched for the game-winning score.
And then, for good measure, the back added a 47-yard TD (after a Steven Daniels interception) to ice the win, BC’s fifth of the season and first road win since the season finale in 2011, and set a school record for rushing yards in a game with 295.
Last month against Army, Williams ran for 263 yards to come within two yards of matching Montel Harris’ previous mark of 265, set against NC State in 2011. He’s now run for more than 200 yards three times this season, and more than 100 seven times.
With 1,471 yards in 2013, Williams needs 255 yards in his final three games to break Mike Cloud’s single-season BC rushing record of 1,726.
And with three games to go, BC needs just one win to reach bowl eligibility in coach Steve Addazio’s first season.
The season has entered its final quarter, and to reach their goals the Eagles will do what they’ve done all season: Ride Williams as far as the big back can take them.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.