Taylor scores 3 TDs as Panthers spring to victory
Fred Jeter | 9/27/2018, 6 a.m.
Panthers take on Blue Bears
Saturday, Sept. 29
Virginia Union University plays Livingstone College at Hovey Field; Church Appreciation Day.
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Virginia Union University tailback Tabyus Taylor has the size of a lineman but the speed of a sprinter.
That rare combination of physical gifts has made him the CIAA’s most feared running back at this juncture.
Taylor tops the conference in rushing and touchdowns heading into the game Saturday, Sept. 29, with Livingstone College at Hovey Field.
The rugged and surprisingly swift 6-foot, 250-pound sophomore from Hopewell rumbled for 138 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries in VUU’s impressive 27-19 win last week at Winston-Salem State University.
Taylor doesn’t go down easy.
“Some people just play football. Tabyus is a football player,” said Panthers Coach Alvin Parker. “He can do it all — run, catch, block. And if we asked him to throw, he could do that, too.”
Helping VUU to a 2-1 record, Taylor has rushed for 412 yards on 74 tries with eight touchdowns. He has added 88 yards and a ninth touchdown on 14 receptions.
“His numbers speak for themselves,” Coach Parker said.
Nationally, Taylor ranks first in scoring and is tied for third in rushing in the NCAA Division II. Taylor’s numbers likely would be even more impressive had it not been for the cancellation of VUU’s Sept. 15 game against Johnson C. Smith University. Smith has allowed 121 points in going 0-3 thus far.
To illustrate his versatility, Taylor was an All-State quarterback for Hopewell High School. Don’t be surprised if Coach Parker works in some run-pass options at some point.
Taylor wears No. 9, traditionally a number wore by quarterbacks.
He doesn’t do it alone. Taylor operates behind a massive offensive line led by Shamdu Nalls, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound senior out of Baltimore.
“We lead the conference in rushing and haven’t given up a single sack,” Coach Parker said. “That says a lot about our line. They like to push people around.”
Other interior linemen are Khari Johnson of Petersburg, Justin Smith of Leesburg, Nate Thomas of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Markell Thomas of Newark, N.J.
Taylor is most appreciative of wearing the Panthers’ maroon and steel colors after missing two seasons after high school because of some personal and legal issues.
“I’m just blessed for this opportunity,” he said. “I just take it one game at a time, one play at a time.”
Taylor was off to an outstanding start a year ago before injuring an ankle during the second week. He did not play a year ago in VUU’s home loss to Winston-Salem State University. To make up for 2017, Taylor gave the Rams something of a double dose of his talents this go round.
VUU is benefiting from its local recruiting efforts. Leading the VUU defense with nine tackles against the Rams was freshman Andre Mack from Richmond’s Armstrong High School.
Jaiden Reavis, a sophomore from Highland Springs, had five catches for 72 yards from quarterback Darius Taylor, no relation to Tabyus Taylor.
Invading Livingstone College seems improved following a 0-10 record in 2017. The Blue Bears lost to University of Pikeville 52-23, but have since scored victories over Allen University of South Carolina 19-0 and Lincoln University of Pennsylvania 30-0.
Keeping Taylor out of the end zone will be a tall order for the visitors from Salisbury, N.C.
“Livingstone is the most important game on our schedule because it is the next game on the schedule,” Coach Parker said.