Rice sophomore receiver Jordan Taylor took a team motto throughout the season and applied it to himself Saturday in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: It’s not how you start, its how you finish.
While Taylor led the Owls in receiving yards throughout the season, it wasn’t until Saturday that he finally found the end zone. Apparently, the lanky 6-foot-4 receiver enjoyed the experience, because he found pay dirt a total of three times on his way to becoming the game’s MVP and breaking the Armed Forces Bowl record for receiving yards with 153.
“He’s had an amazing season,” Rice head coach David Bailiff said after the Owls’ 33-14 victory over Air Force. “This was his best game today; he saved it for the bowl. He’s been a go-to guy all season.
“It’s really pretty remarkable about his touchdowns and him not having any, because it’s not like we aren’t trying to throw him the ball down there. Today was the day opportunity came his way and he continued to make plays.”
“Taylor’s first score came on a 16-yard pass in the first quarter from Taylor McHargue, giving Rice a 7-0 lead and foreshadowing the rest of his career day. He would score again at the 9:30 mark in the third quarter to tie the game for Rice at 14, reeling in a 22-yard pass from backup quarterback Driphus Jackson. Taylor put the cherry on top when he hauled in a 34-yard pass from Jackson with 1:38 left in the game.
“It’s unbelievable,” Taylor said. “Especially growing up in Denison which is about an hour and a half from here, playing in front of a hometown crowd with a lot of people, it’s just an awesome feeling. It feels great, and I can’t express how much it means to me to be able to play with this team. We grew throughout the season, and this was a great end to it.”
For a team with only seven seniors, it should come as no surprise that it was an underclassman who stole the show Saturday, and Jordan Taylor did just that. The Owls have a considerable amount of talent returning for the 2013 campaign, and Jordan Taylor showed Saturday that he should be an important part of that force.