Another Saturday, another shake-your-head-in-amazement performance from Javonte Williams. After another 100-yard outing, the junior running back earned the extremely prestigious Tar Heel Blog Player of the Game award.** It is the third time in four games we’ve awarded the honor to Williams, who is on pace to have one of the most prolific scoring seasons in UNC history.
**Not extremely prestigious.
Before we go any further, it must be stated Williams didn’t do it by himself. The offensive line deserves credit for an incredible job of dominating up front, opening gaps, finishing blocks and keeping Sam Howell clean. The young, talented, and thin front-five have struggled with consistency throughout the year. However, one week after giving up five sacks to UVA, they held Duke to just one sack and paved the way for 338 rushing yards. Offensive lines are often unsung heroes when they perform and thrown to the wolves when they fail. Yesterday, any success started and ended with their performance.
On the day, Williams totaled 151 rushing yards, 24 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. The first score of the day came on a two-yard pass from Sam Howell. The final three came on the ground from 4, 32, and 33 yards. The 32 yard run was especially memorable, as Williams employed his well-known practice of taking a defender’s soul. But, words cannot accurately describe what it looked like to watch Duke cornerback Tony Davis slide seven yards backwards as Williams made contact and then tumbled over him into the end zone.
Instead, enjoy this .GIF.
It should be noted that all of Williams’ scores were in the first half as UNC steamrolled its way to 42 first half points. His four touchdowns gave him a total of 24 points scored in the first 30 minutes of action. That was as many points as Duke scored the entire game.
However, finding the end zone was a just a perk of Williams’ hard work. He finished with 151 yards on 12 carries for a laughable 12.6 yards per carry. Most of the heavy lifting was done on two of those touchdown runs and another 37-yard scamper in the 4th quarter. Overall, Williams had five runs that went for more than 10 yards, including those three runs that exceeded 30 yards.
That running success, plus four more receptions for 24 yards helped Williams cross another threshold. Williams entered yesterday with 876 yards from scrimmage. After adding 175 total yards at Duke, Williams has 1,001 yards from scrimmage on the season. If those totals hold after any post-game stat scrubbing, that makes him the first Tar Heel since Elijah Hood to earn 1,000 combined receiving and rushing yards in back-to-back seasons.
Surprisingly, only Williams, Hood, and Gio Bernard have accomplished that feat in the last 24 years. The last Heel to do that before that trio was Leon Johnson. The backfield stalwart who aided Mack Brown’s rise to national prominence did it in consecutive seasons from 1993-1996.
Meanwhile, the junior running back is officially looking to enter his name in UNC’s history books. Don McCauley owns the single-season record for total touchdowns (21) and rushing touchdowns (19). Williams now has 17 total touchdowns and 14 rushing touchdowns with four regular season games remaining.