Williams shines for East Carolina
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — After showing flashes of brilliance earlier this season, it was only a matter of time before Jonathan Williams exploded.
The East Carolina freshman turned in the most productive game of his young career Saturday in the Pirates’ 41-6 victory over the UAB Blazers.
ECU coach Skip Holtz said it was just a matter of time before Williams would get his opportunity.
“A game like this is what you’ve been waiting for,” Holtz said. “Everything in the past has been a one-possession game. He made a mistake on one of the plays on a second-and-long situation and we ended up having to punt, but those are the types of mistakes that get you beat in a one-play game.
“It was really nice to see him get in the game to do some things. We’re really starting to develop a lot of trust in him.”
Williams burned the Blazers with his rushing and his kickoff returns, finishing with 134 all-purpose yards before a jubilant crowd at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
“I work hard in practice,” Williams said. “They said that if I go as hard as I can in practice, that will get me on the field. I just took that into the game today.”
Williams’ day was highlighted by his first career college touchdown, a 35-yard scamper in the first quarter that put the Pirates up for good.
“It’s a good feeling,” Williams said. “It builds my confidence up for the games further down the line.”
Williams scored his first touchdown on just the fifth rush of his college career. The former J.H. Rose High School standout had entered the game with four carries for 17 yards.
The freshman also had eight kickoff returns for 177 yards (22.1 average), including a long of 63 yards against North Carolina. Williams, who has also been credited with two special teams tackles and a fumble recovery against N.C. State, added to his totals in a big way.
Williams, who missed two games earlier in the season with an ankle injury, finished the game with 63 yards on five carries (12.6 average) and 71 yards on two kickoff returns (35.5 average).
After his performance Saturday, Williams will likely see more touches in the near future.
“He’s a talent,” Holtz said. “We’ve just been waiting for an opportunity to give him a chance to make some plays and I thought he did a really nice job with it.”
Emptying the bench
Along with the 22 starters, 57 other players saw action for the Pirates.
That included back-up quarterbacks Joe Sloan, who completed his only pass for 5 yards to Javon Brumsey.
J.R. Kraemer caught his first pass at ECU, a 9-yard pass from Brett Clay (3-of-6 for 22 yards).
Staring quarterback Rob Kass was 10-of-17 for 69 yards.
“We played a lot of people tonight,” Holtz said. “It’s great to have the opportunity to go out there, play a game and by the end of the third quarter, get in some of those guys that have practiced hard. It was great to see them get in the game and have the opportunity to play a little bit.”
Two Pirates left the field and didn’t return during Saturday’s game.
Offensive lineman Fred Hicks went out with an ankle injury in the first half and didn’t return to the game. Holtz expects the lineman may be out for a while.
Tight end Davon Drew also appeared to injure and ankle.