Nearing the end of his 84-yard touchdown run that beat North Carolina today, Maryland tailback Willie Joyner looked back over his right shoulder and was shocked to see no Tar Heel within 20 yards.
"It really surprised me that nobody was close," said Joyner. "Everybody was on the other side of the field.
"One guy tried to hand-tackle me behind the line of scrimmage, and then I didn't feel anybody else around. I thought, 'Hey, they must have let me go.' "
The longest run from scrimmage this season in the Atlantic Coast Conference gave Maryland a 31-24 victory and enabled Joyner to break Maryland's single-game rushing record with 240 yards. George Scott set the previous record of 237 against Villanova in 1977.
Joyner had another touchdown run, of 49 yards, and a 55-yarder that set up a third Maryland score. Joyner's previous one-game high was 111 yards Sept. 25 against North Carolina State.
"Never have I had a day like this," Joyner said. "Not in grade school, high school or anything. But the best thing is that everybody knows we can win a big game now."
Most of the pregame talk about this game centered on a more celebrated tailback, Kelvin Bryant of North Carolina.
"All week long it was 'Kelvin Bryant, Kelvin Bryant and more Kelvin Bryant,' " said Joyner's roommate, defensive end Brian Baker. "We couldn't hear about anybody else.
"Willie's a somber guy, so he didn't say anything. But he took it as a personal challenge."
When Joyner initially broke clear for his 84-yard run, the Maryland bench was momentarily stunned.
"I'm a very emotional guy," said Baker, "and I was silent. I couldn't believe it."
"It was great," said tight end John Tice.
It was Tice, along with offensive linemen Kevin Glover and Dave Pacella who controlled the line of scrimmage against Division I-A's best rushing defense.
"The blocking seemed perfect on almost every play," Joyner said.
"On those three long runs, I don't think I broke more than three tackles, total. On the 55-yarder I broke one arm-tackle and kept pumping my legs. I kept running behind Tice, because he was sealing off everything."
Said Carolina Coach Dick Crum: "He (Joyner) did a good job of of running hard. He got on his blocks and he stayed there. That's what it basically boils down to."
Mike Wilcher, from Washington's Eastern High School, nearly caught Joyner on his 49-yard run.
"They mixed up their offense really well," Wilcher said. "Our main concern was Boomer Esiason (Maryland's quarterback). Their backs really surprised us."
Carolina defensive tackle William Fuller was another player who was impressed with Maryland's blocking. "Maryland's chop-blocking threw us off balance, and we weren't getting to the (ball carrier)," he said.
When asked about Joyner, Fuller said, "We didn't think he was a great runner."