The Wolfpacker

Nov.-Dec. 2020

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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50 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY TIM PEELER T ed Brown knew his ACC career-rushing record would end one day. But, he never expected it to last 42 years. "I think I am going to be No. 2 for a long time, too," Brown said. "Because it took so long to break this one. … Forty-two years is a long, long time." Still, there is a bit of wistfulness in his voice knowing that Clemson running back Travis Etienne eclipsed his record of 4,602 rushing yards, a mark Brown established in his three and a half seasons (1975-78) as one of the nation's top running backs. Etienne broke Brown's record during Clemson's comeback win over Boston Col- lege on Oct. 31, ending the contest with 4,644 yards in 50 career games. Brown set his record in just 43 career outings with the Wolfpack and, thanks to the vagaries of the ever-wise NCAA, none of the statistics he acquired in three bowl games — 399 rushing yards and three touchdowns, plus two pass receptions — are included in his official totals. The NCAA changed the rule to allow postseason statistics beginning in 2002, but it did not retroactively add postseason num- bers already accrued. If it had, the rusher from High Point who was lightly recruited by schools other than NC State would be one of just 15 players to gain more than 5,000 rushing yards in college. So Etienne — whose league champion- ship, bowl and national title game statistics are all a part of the new ACC career rush- ing record — might not completely catch Brown, but it won't appear that way in the record books. Brown — a retired probation officer, still living in Minnesota, where he played all eight of his NFL seasons with the Min- nesota Vikings — is not bitter. He's never met Etienne, but he's talked to enough folks around the Clemson program to know he seems like a worthy successor. Brown likes to look at his career achieve- ment holistically, crediting his fellow run- ning backs, like Billy Ray Vickers, and his amazing offensive line, for the part they played in his accomplishments. There has been so much review through the years while Brown has been inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the NC State Athletics Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. However, he can still easily recall his favorite moments. Here are his top four: • As a freshman, Brown didn't start the first four games. He contemplated going back to High Point and starting over when head coach Lou Holtz asked him to redshirt. Instead, his older backfield running mates fumbled the ball away five times in a 37-15 loss against Michigan State, prompting Holtz to insert the 5-9, 170-pound back into a starting role against Indiana. He gained more than 100 yards against the Hoosiers. His biggest game that first year, however, was at Clemson's Death Valley, when he romped over the Tigers defense for 227 yards on 24 carries and touchdown runs of 11, six, one and 54 yards. "That's a pretty good day down there," noted Brown, who was named the ACC's first-ever Rookie of the Year following that season. • As a junior, Brown and the Wolfpack lined up against Penn State on Nov. 5, 1977. The ninth-ranked Nittany Lions couldn't stop him, mostly grabbing mesh jersey and air as Brown rolled up a school-record 251 yards against the nation's No. 1 defense — a single-game rushing record that still stands for NC State and against Penn State. He went through all the No. 23 tear-a- ways the equipment staff brought to Carter Stadium that day and finished wearing team- mate Raymond Harrison's No. 15 jersey. "They tore through them all," remem- bered Brown, who scored both NC State touchdowns and had two runs longer than 50 yards. "But they never stopped me." Penn State, which went on to win the Fi- esta Bowl that season, scored in the game's final minute for a 21-17 victory. • Brown was an absolute ram slayer: Three of his ACC-record 27 100-yard rush- ing games were against North Carolina. In four outings against the Tar Heels, he rushed for 471 yards and eight touchdowns, averag- ing 5.4 yards per carry. One of his biggest career highlights came on Oct. 21, 1978, when the senior back car- ried the ball 36 times, gained 189 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 31-7 win. "It was against Carolina," Brown stated. "Of course, it is one of my favorite memories." • And, finally, for shear emotion, he re- calls the 95-yard touchdown run he had at Syracuse, which still stands as one of the longest plays from scrimmage in ACC his- tory. That play was for Brown's mom, who died of cancer the week before the game, putting doubt about his availability to play in the game. He played, and he gave the ultimate tribute to his biggest fan. Brown entered his senior season as the nation's top returning rusher. He finished with his third consecutive 1,000-yard sea- son, ran for a school-record 1,350 yards and was named first-team All-ACC for the fourth year in a row, something that has never been matched. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Etienne may have broken the actual re- cord, but nothing can diminish Touchdown Ted's legacy at NC State or in the ACC. ■ Tim Peeler is a regular contributor to The Wolfpacker and can be reached at Brown gained his ACC-record 4,602 career rushing yards in just 43 regular-season games, while Clemson's Travis Etienne has the luxury of counting all contests he's played in, a number that will be in the 50s by the end of his college career. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE ATHLETICS PACK PERSPECTIVE Even Without The ACC Rushing Record, Touchdown Ted Brown Is One Of The League's Best Ever

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