NICHOLASVILLE — Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?
West Jessamine star Devin Taylor celebrated his 17th birthday Friday by rushing for 330 yards and three touchdowns to lead the host Colts past arch-rival East Jessamine 35-33 in a roller-coaster renewal of their 17-year rivalry.
"I love playing football, and I count this as a birthday party," Taylor said. "We all came out here and basically partied. We all had fun.
"I'm ready to eat my cookie cake and go home and get some sleep. I'm sore," Taylor said after his 31-carry night.
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Taylor, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior has run for 1,244 yards and 16 TDs in five games this year. He had 2,442 yards and 23 TDs last season.
Taylor said Eastern, Western and Morehead are recruiting him, but "I hope Kentucky starts looking at me. I love them."
West Coach Yancey Marcum thinks a lot of colleges are missing out on Taylor.
"People aren't recruiting that kid, but they ought to come watch him. He's a heck of a player. He's only 17, he's skinny as all get-out but he weighs 210, and he justs keep truckin', truckin' and truckin'."
West had all kinds of trouble truckin' past East.
Coach Mike Bowlin's Jaguars, led by the running combination of Jared Caudill and Kahnen Leslie, scored three times in the third quarter to rally from a 14-6 halftime deficit to lead 26-21.
Leslie, a 5-6, 150-pound senior, broke free out of what looked like a rugby scrum to bolt 95 yards for the go-ahead TD on the next-to-last play of the third quarter.
But West didn't blink. It answered with a 49-yard, six-play drive in which Taylor carried every time. He capped it with an 8-yard scoring run.
East was looking to regain the lead on its next possession when it drove from its own 29 to the West 26.
But that's when the Colts' defense made the play of the game. Clay Conner hit Caudill in the backfield and knocked the ball loose. West recovered, and then went on a clinching scoring drive.
Taylor again finished it off with a 29-yard TD jaunt.
East didn't quit, though.
Jaguars quarterback Cory Garrett hit a clutch pass to keep the drive alive, then hit Tyler Blue with a 35-yard TD toss with 36 seconds left to cut the West lead to 35-33.
East tried an onside kick and had a chance to pounce on it, but West wound up securing the loose ball.
Was Taylor nervous waiting for the officials to say which team had possession?
"I don't get nervous," he said. "I just think about the next play and what I have to do to help my team make the play."
East's defense did a good job taking away West's short passing game. But Colts quarterback Jackson Pearce did connect for a pair of TD passes — a 16-yarder to Alex Penman and a 35-yarder to Carter Hahn.
Penalties hampered West all night. Marcum chalked that up to his young team "being too excited. We need to calm down and make things easier on ourselves."
East's running attack was productive all night. Caudill, a 5-6, 179-pound senior, finished with 111 yards and two TDs. Leslie wound up with 109 yards and a score.
Since East beat West three times in a row from 2005-08, the teams have taken turns winning this grudge match. East leads the series 10-7.
WEST JESSAMINE 35, EAST JESSAMINE 33
East Jessamine 0 6 20 7 —33
West Jessamine 7 7 7 14—35
WJ—Alex Penman 16 pass from Jackson Pearce (Wes Holifield kick). EJ—Jared Caudill 15 run (run failed). WJ—Devin Taylor 54 run (Holifield kick). EJ—Caudill 2 run (Skyler Rose run). WJ—Carter Hahn 35 pass from Pearce (Holifield kick). EJ—Kendrick Reynolds 11 run (pass failed). EJ—Kahnen Leslie 95 run (pass failed). WJ—Taylor 8 run (Holifield kick). EJ—Tyler Blue 35 pass from Cory Garrett (Blue kick).
Records — East Jessamine 1-3; West Jessamine 3-2