Cooper Taylor picked an opportune time to play the game of his life.
Late in the fourth quarter at War Memorial Field on Nov. 10, Central Bucks West had called a timeout and Taylor, the 6-foot senior quarterback who also plays defense, was limping as he walked toward head coach Rob Rowan. A strip of blood stained his yellow pants on his right thigh – it looked like he had been through war.
In retrospect, he was. Matchups between these two teams are always a fight. But the pain Taylor endured wasn’t enough to take him out of the game. His resilience, along with his incredible performance, ultimately led to a thrilling overtime victory for the Bucks, knocking off Garnet Valley 28-27 for the second time this season (Aug. 25, 17-13) and securing a spot in the District One 6A semifinals. This win for the Bucks also served as quite the revenge; last season Garnet Valley defeated CB West 35-7 in the district championship.
“This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s heroics were on display the entirety of the game, carrying the ball 22 times for 182 yards and four rushing touchdowns while also snagging an interception on the defensive side. Though the crux of his performance came on a game-changing defensive play in overtime.
Garnet Valley was given the ball first in overtime, with the Jaguars setting up at the 25-yard line. They were quick to score, quarterback Tyler Lassik rushing 11 yards toward the right side of the end zone, diving at the pylon. The Jaguars lined up for the extra point, which would extend their lead to seven, but after the ball was snapped, Garnet Valley’s kicker stuttered, and Taylor jumped out in front of the kick to block it, something he had never done before.
“I saw the holder drop the snap. ... I wasn’t even supposed to come off the edge but I just came, last play,” Taylor said. “Just had to do what I had to do, it was right place at the right time.”
CB West’s offense then marched onto the field with a chance to tie it up, which Taylor “knew” was going to happen. After one play at the bottom-half of overtime, Taylor rolled out to his left looking for a pass, when he didn’t see an open receiver, he took off to the left side of the end zone, scoring on an 8-yard touchdown. Running back/kicker Ryan Clemens then kicked the extra point to win the game – it was bedlam in Doylestown.
Taylor’s first of four touchdowns came from 3 yards out, taking the shotgun snap to the right side of the pile forming at the goal line, concluding a 70-yard drive on the Bucks first possession of the game.
The Bucks hadn’t scored since their first possession and the game was 7-7 entering halftime. With under two minutes to play in the third quarter, Garnet Valley jumped ahead on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Lassik to Kai Lopez. Seeking a big play to overcome its offensive woes, CB West was rewarded with Taylor’s second score of the game, this one from 47 yards. The senior quarterback took another designed keeper to the right side, shedding tacklers on the sideline and cutting back inside for a spark.
Though the Jaguars responded quickly, Taylor remained unwavered, scoring his third touchdown with under six minutes to play in the fourth quarter, which tied the game again. To no surprise, he scored on another keeper, which he took up the middle for another 19-yard touchdown that sent the game into overtime.
“Our offense, I would say at times, can be complex. For him to manage all of that, and then turn around and pay full time on the other side of the ball and not make mistakes ... That was the best individual performance I have ever seen,” said Rowan about Taylor, who coached multiple seasons in the college ranks but has spent majority of his coaching career at the high school level, leading the Bucks since 2018 and coaching at Archbishop Wood for three seasons prior to his collegiate jump.
Since taking over for starting quarterback Ganz Cooper, who tore his ACL before the start of the season, Taylor hasn’t been tasked with throwing much. Rowan and the offense have relied on a run-first approach that has featured Taylor, Clemens and Conor McFadden. But after McFadden went down in the Bucks’ win on Nov. 3 against Cheltenham, suffering the same injury Cooper did, CB West needed to rely on Taylor and Clemens more often.
Clemens, who went 4-for-4 in extra points, added 139 yards on the ground.
“Both of them run the ball with such force,” Rowan said. “They rarely go down on the first tackle and they take pride in that. ... I think they complement each other very well. To have those two guys in the backfield together is certainly a luxury for us.”
CB West (12-0) is now set to face Central Bucks South (11-1) in a rematch of their Week 9 game, won by the Bucks 40-29.
“I have all the respect in the world for South and coach (Tom) Hetrick and what those guys do over there,” Rowan said. “They’re a tremendous team and a tremendous program. ... It’s going to be, obviously, an absolute dog fight again.”