The "Cadillac" that was on display Saturday at Sanford Stadium carried a lot more passengers than that as his Auburn teammates hitched a ride on his 190-pound frame and together they beat No. 19 Georgia 24-17.
And when Carnell "Cadillac" Williams' fuel guage needle started creeping towards the "E" at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the true freshman running back didn't need a gas station, he just needed a dose of self-motivation. "I told myself it is time to suck it up in the second half," Williams said. "I know those guys were depending on me and I was depending on them, so I just sucked it up and went."
Williams had already carried the ball 35 of his team record 41 attempts when Georgia placekicker Billy Bennett tied the game at 17 with a 43-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter, but that just gave the prep All-American a chance to show what a little self-motivation can do.
On first down and 10 from the Bulldog 22, Williams rushed for 18 yards. After a two-yard pass from Daniel Cobb to Jeris McIntyre made it second and eight from the UGA 24, Williams hauled in a screen pass from Cobb and emerged from a slew of Bulldog defenders still on his feet racing towards the end zone. Bulldog cornerback Tim Wansley forced Cadillac out of bounds 61 yards later, but just two plays later Williams leaped into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game which gave Auburn its seven-point margin of victory.
Carnell Williams pumps his fist after the Tigers' 24-17 victory over the Bulldogs.
"He's the toughest kid I've ever coached," AU running backs coach Eddie Gran said. "Forty-one carries against a defense like that. He's as tough as they come." Williams gained 167 on the ground and 81 more through the air on four catches. Of his 238 total yards vs. the Bulldogs, 98 came in the fourth quarter and 81 of those came on the game-winning touchdown drive.
"He's a football player," Gran replied when asked of his star tailbacks' strengths. "He understands the game of football. You never, ever see him stop his feet, his shoulder pads are level and always north and south. His tempo is different than anybody's I have ever been around. He's just a different cat."
The Georgia game was the first of many starts in Williams' career and it won't be the last time the former Etowah High standout carries this ball club to victory. "I don't think it could have worked out any better for what happened with Carnell," Gran said. "He earned his way into the starting spot and it just worked out perfect."
TIGER TICKET EXTRA The adjectives describing the night Carnell Williams had were echoing throughout Sanford Stadium Saturday night. The Georgia stat crew replaced Williams' name with "sensational freshman" on his 18-yard run on the Tigers' game-winning touchdown drive. Linebacker Tavarreus Pounds said Williams reminds him of Auburn's fourth-quarter workhorse from last year, Rudi Johnson. "Different styles, same results," Pounds said. "He set a school record of 41 carries as a true freshman. That is unbelievable. I can't say enough about him. He's real special to this team. I enjoy seeing him play and he's going to play on Sundays one day…"It's great," center Ben Nowland said. "It's awesome, a kid who can run like him. It's amazing. Last year we thought Rudi was special, but Carnell is just as special if not more. He's unbelievable to watch."