In its first four games, UNLV had Lexington Thomas rush the football 66 times, more than twice as many times as any other running back. But on Saturday, Coach Tony Sanchez gave Charles Williams, the former Bullard High back, an opportunity to make an impression against his hometown team and he did exactly that in the Rebels’ 45-20 victory.
Williams led the Rebels with 18 carries – Thomas had 15 – and ripped off runs of 11, 39 and 42 yards in gaining a career-high 153 yards with one touchdown.
“It just showed that they missed out on talent, and I just came out here and played and I tried to get a win and I did whatever I could to get a win,” he said.
313 Rushing yards on the season for Charles Williams after his 153-yard game against the Bulldogs
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Sanchez said Williams had been texting him almost every day about this matchup against the Bulldogs and that he knew he was primed to play.
“Yeah, that’s true,” Williams said. “That’s very true.”
Williams said he did not want to go to Fresno State, but he was still miffed that the Bulldogs didn’t make contact until late in the process and recruited him as a slot receiver rather than a running back. Fresno State took three running backs in its 2016 recruiting class – Justin Rice, Saevion Johnson and Deonte Perry; Rice is out with a foot injury, Johnson is close to coming back from a hamstring injury and Perry is out for the season with a knee injury.
That, Williams said, is when he felt disrespected by the Bulldogs, but the game Saturday was not necessarily an opportunity to show them what he could do running with the football.
“I just came here because they gave me the opportunity to play running back and I showed them that I could play running back,” he said. “I did what I told them I was going to do.”
With redshirt freshman quarterback Dalton Sneed rushing for another 147 yards, UNLV ended up gaining 364 yards on 54 plays, 6.7 yards per play. The Rebels are the third team in a row to gain more than 300 yards on the ground against the Bulldogs defense.
Toledo rushed for 318 yards in a 52-17 victory and Tulsa for 336 in a 48-41 overtime victory. Fresno State has not allowed more than 300 yards rushing in three consecutive games going back through the 2000 season.
Coach Tim DeRuyter saw no irony afterward.
We knew he was a good football player and we would have loved to have him as a Bulldog, but that’s the way it goes in recruiting.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter
“I didn’t think it was ironic,” he said. “We knew he was a good football player and we would have loved to have him as a Bulldog, but that’s the way it goes in recruiting. You can’t take all the guys. Hats off to him, he had a heck of a game.”
The Bulldogs do have a Bullard High back on the roster – Dejonte O’Neal. He did not get a chance to play against UNLV – he suffered a knee injury in the overtime loss to Tulsa and is out for the season.
“I felt really bad,” Williams said. “I really wanted for him come out here and show what he had. It just hurt me to see him hurt because he has never been hurt as long as he has been playing.”