Posted: 12:23 am Saturday, November 28th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
From the opening snap to the final play of the game, the night belonged to Glades Day running back Kelvin Taylor.
Taylor dominated Jupiter Christian’s defense and raced into the end zone for the game-winning two-point conversion as Glades Day beat the Eagles 45-44 in the Class 1B regional finals at Port St. Lucie High.
For Gators coach Pete Walker, there was no other choice but to put the ball in Taylor’s hands and try to end a wild game.
“If I can’t get three yards with the best tailback in the state, we deserve to lose,” Walker said.
“We knew they had the heart of a champion, but tonight we found out we have one, too.”
Once Taylor crossed the goal line, dozens of green and gold helmets flew into the air as the Gators celebrated on the field.
Glades Day (10-2) advances to the state semifinals, where it will visit Sarasota-Out-of-Door. The Gators are seeking their first state championship since winning the Class 1A title in 2006.
Jupiter Christian, winner of the past two Class 1B state titles, stormed back from a 31-9 deficit in the third quarter to tie the game at 37 with 1:55 remaining, then took a 44-37 lead in overtime.
“My hat’s off to them,” Eagles coach Bill Powers said. “I couldn’t be prouder of our kids.”
Taylor, a freshman, pulled the Gators within one in overtime on his fifth touchdown run of the game, then cut through the right side of Jupiter Christian’s defense for the game-winner.
“I knew it was going to be a touchdown,” Taylor said. “They were overloaded on one side and we just ran right in.”
Taylor finished with 271 yards on 32 carries in his second straight dominant performance. He topped 1,400 yards in the regular season for the second straight year and pummeled Miami MacArthur North in last week’s playoff game for 316 yards and five scores.
Taylor, the son of Glades Central legend and current New England Patriot Fred Taylor, ran for 171 yards on his first five carries and beat the Eagles with touchdown runs of 40, 61, 55, 15 and 10 yards.
Jupiter Christian quarterback Marshyl Rothman overcame a dismal start to throw two touchdown passes and run for another in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 37-30, the Eagles sacked Glades Day quarterback Tanner Redish and he fumbled at his own 34-yard line with 3:41 left in the game. Eagles defensive back Josh Gamble recovered it and Rothman followed with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Gamble to tie the game with 1:55 remaining.
Rothman’s pass was intended for Westin Pedersen, but bounced out of his hands to Gamble, who sprinted into the end zone.
Rothman started the game 4-for-16 passing and threw two interceptions, but rebounded to finish 10 of 22 for 206 yards and three touchdown passes. He also ran 18 times for 64 yards and two scores.
Pedersen led the Eagles (9-3) with seven catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
With Jupiter Christian and Pahokee both eliminated, Palm Beach County will not have a repeat state championship for the first time since 2006.