COLUMBIA, S.C. – It had been some time since David Williams had scored a touchdown for South Carolina. He still could name when, saying his last score came against South Alabama.
That was 20 games ago, back in November 2014.
“Time flies,” he said.
The junior running back got in the end zone twice Saturday in South Carolina’s 34-28 win against Massachusetts. He also rushed for the second-highest total in his career, finishing with 69 yards on 15 carries.
“It felt good for me just to have the opportunity to go out there and do what I can,” Williams said.
Williams was the expected starter when the Gamecocks opened fall camp, but he fell out of favor early. He worked his way back through camp but has had limited opportunities this season. His playing time has been so sparse that on a day when South Carolina started quarterback Jake Bentley, a true freshman who enrolled in June, it was Williams’ start that came as a greater surprise.
But he quickly made his presence felt, breaking out for a 33-yard rush on his third carry to set up an early score. He scored from the 1-yard line later in the first quarter and scored from 1 yard out again in the third quarter.
Freshman running back Rico Dowdle was the leading rusher with 87 yards as the Gamecocks rushed for a season-high 194 yards on 44 attempts.
Coach Will Muschamp praised both Dowdle and Williams after the game, while mentioning redshirt freshman A.J. Turner was limited by a banged-up knee.
“Those guys have been practicing good,” Muschamp said. “We go back to practice and how you prepare and how you practice. Not that (Turner) had been practicing poorly, but we felt like those other guys had done a nice job.”
Muschamp said the Gamecocks hit some big plays in the run game based on the style of defense UMass employs.
“I felt like we got a rhythm during the game,” Williams said. “We got coach (Kurt) Roper comfortable calling more run plays so we can do something with the ball.”
For Williams, it was a welcome return to production. He rushed seven times for 67 yards against East Carolina on Sept. 17, but he had just 11 carries in the two following games before seeing no action against Georgia.
Getting back in the end zone, though, was the highlight for the Philadelphia native.
“It has been quite a minute,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to keeping on getting in the end zone.”