It was North Carolina's first play from scrimmage, a simple, test-the-opposition run up the middle. But Carolina tailback Kelvin Bryant was looking for a little bit more.
He followed his center for two yards, threw off two Boston College linemen, changed directions three times and gained 44 yards to help set up the first of eight Carolina touchdowns as the ninth-ranked Tar Heels (3-0) ran over Boston College, 56-14, today in Kenan Memorial Stadium.
Bryant rushed for four touchdowns and gained 173 yards in 22 carries. He now has 15 touchdowns and 520 yards rushing this season. Today, Bryant had two two-yard touchdowns, a 39-yard score and a late four-yard scoring run to dazzle a Boston College defense that upset Texas A&M last week.
Bryant needs six touchdowns in the Tar Heels' eight remaining games to tie the Atlantic Coast Conference record of 21, set in 1970 by North Carolina's Don McCauley. He is also more than halfway to the NCAA season record of 29 touchdowns, set by Lydell Mitchell of Penn State in 1971.
Rushing for more than 100 yards and scoring a heap of touchdowns has become commonplace for the junior tailback, who runs the 100 in 9.2 seconds and celebrated his 21st birthday today. But today's performance, before 48,000 and a regional network television audience, was more important to Bryant and his teammates than season-opening mismatches over East Carolina (56-0) and Miami of Ohio (49-7).
"I liked getting a little more exposure on television today," Bryant said afterward. "I don't know if the rest of the country is taking me and the team seriously yet. But we're serious."
The Tar Heels, who were also helped by Rod Elkins' three touchdown passes, scored on eight of their first 10 possessions, gaining 418 yards rushing (538 total). The team is determined to eliminate any doubt that North Carolina is a legitimate top 10 team.
There is little doubt that Bryant is a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy. "That's not even in the back of my mind," Bryant said. "No, not the front of it either," he laughed. Faster than Herschel Walker, with the spins, whirls and swivels one would expect from a little scatback, Bryant gets his yards with or without blocking.
"Kelvin has so many moves, all you have to do is hold your block for just one second and he's gone," said Carolina right tackle Mike Marr. "People look at Kelvin's performances and say, 'Man, than offensive line must be blocking pretty well.' We are, I guess. But he makes us look fantastic. He breaks tackles like the defenders aren't even there."
Boston College came into today's game simply hoping to contain Bryant. "He spins right out of tackles and just leaves you there grasping nothing," said Eagle noseguard Joe Nash, a victim several times this afternoon.
With Carolina leading, 14-0, on a touchdown pass from Elkins to Victor Harrison and a 63-yard scoring pass from Elkins to Mark Smith, Bryant had gone an entire quarter without a touchdown.
He made it 21-0, Carolina, to start the second quarter with a two-yard scoring run, following tough, straight-ahead runs of nine and eight yards earlier in the series. His second two-yard score made it 28-0, and the Tar Heels led, 35-0, at halftime.
Bryant sat out much of the third quarter with a sprained ankle, but used blocks from Marr and fullback Alan Burrus to break down the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown run.
His fourth and last touchdown angered some BC supporters but proved conclusive testimony to the glowing praise bestowed upon him the last two weeks.
On fourth and goal from the four, with Carolina leading, 49-7, North Carolina Coach Dick Crum let a pleading Bryant go back into the game. He took a pitchout right and broke three tackles on route to running into the end zone, standing up, of course.