Emmanuel Taylor’s first conversation with the Wichita Force about becoming its quarterback was two, maybe three weeks ago.
That was three, maybe four quarterbacks ago.
In the Force’s ninth game Friday night, Taylor became the team’s sixth starting quarterback and the eighth to attempt a pass. Just so happens it came in the biggest game of the season, a 52-49 victory over first-place Dodge City that propelled the Force (6-3) to the top of the Champions Indoor Football standings.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Force coach Paco Martinez said. “This is a good time to hit our stride and we’re hitting it.”
And hitting it with a quarterback who had never played an indoor game.
“This is my sixth time this year,” Martinez said of a QB search, “so I’ve got a bunch of contacts.”
The contact for Taylor, actually, was Force defensive lineman Latavious Davis, a friend of Taylor. Davis got Taylor and Martinez together on the phone, Martinez watched some game video – Taylor played collegiately at Division II West Georgia – and Taylor flew in Tuesday.
What Martinez saw on video was a strong arm for short and long passes, and maybe more importantly a speedy runner. After that, it was getting Taylor adapted to the faster-paced indoor game in three days – against the league’s first-place team.
“I knew two reps into our practice on Tuesday that we had a guy,” Martinez said. “The first one looked terrible. The second one he adjusted and it all fit very well.”
Sort of like Friday night. Given a 7-0 lead on Jason Catchings’ 7-yard fumble recovery off Dodge City’s kickoff return, Taylor promptly fumbled his first snap and Dodge City recovered, scoring two plays later.
“I was kind of anxious and had never played (indoor),” Taylor said. “I was trying to move too fast instead of settling down and letting the game come to me.”
He did that, and the Force defense helped with another defensive touchdown from Dorian Roberts. Taylor threw a touchdown pass and ran for another as Wichita built a 35-21 halftime lead.
Taylor led a length-of-the-field touchdown drive in the third quarter, completing four passes that gave the Force a two-touchdown lead. Another field-length drive led to a fourth-quarter field goal and 45-28 lead, seemingly putting Dodge City away.
But the Law, forced to get out of its comfort zone and its league-best run game, needed only seven plays to score two touchdowns and make it close with 1:37 to go. Force running back Tywon Hubbard scored the critical TD with 1:08 to play that all but sealed the win.
Taylor completed 11 of 23 passes for 116 yards and an interception. He ran 16 times for 43 yards. He wasn’t injured, which is good news for a Force team struggling for the same guy behind center more than a week or two.
“He’s got some room to grow, and we’ll get to that over the next couple weeks,” Martinez said. “But it’s good to have him with us.”
W – Catchings 7 fumble return (Lacayo kick)
DC – Davis 36 pass from Floyd (Fambrough kick)
W – Roberts 38 fumble return (Lacayo kick)
W – Soft 5 pass from Taylor (Lacayo kick)
DC – Floyd 2 run (kick failed)
W – Hubbard 1 run (Lacayo kick)
W – Taylor 3 run (Lacayo kick)
DC – Carson 3 run (Davis pass from Young)
DC – January 18 pass from Young (Fambrough kick)
W – Anderson 2 pass from Taylor (Lacayo kick)
W – Lacayo 21 FG
DC – Carson 14 pass from Young (Fambrough kick)
DC – Carson 2 run (Fambrough kick)
W – Hubbard 8 run (Lacayo kick)
DC – Carson 33 pass from Floyd (Fambrough kick)
Rushing – Dodge City, Carson 11-52, Floyd 11-21, Washington 4-18. Wichita, Hubbard 16-46, Taylor 16-43.
Passing – Dodge City, Floyd 12-30-186-1. Wichita, Taylor 11-23-116-1.
Receiving – Carson 6-79, Davis 3-51, Washington 1-22, January 1-18, Venson 1-16. Wichita, Anderson 6-67, Soft 3-32, Hubbard 1-10, Kelley 1-7.