CHAMPAIGN – Tim Tebow, eat your heart out.
Centennial junior quarterback Jake Chesnut, in his first varsity start, passed for 116 yards and two scores – including one short jump-pass that looked an awful lot like Florida's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, as the Chargers rallied to beat plucky Decatur Eisenhower 27-8 Friday night in the season opener.
Chesnut's 2-yarder to Will Tomlinson with 3:47 to play sealed the win and reminded folks of a fellow left-hander named Tebow, who uses that play frequently in goal-line situations. When Chesnut ran to the sideline after the touchdown, Chargers offensive coordinator Scott Ryle gave him some grief, saying, "What the heck was that?"
Chesnut said he was just following the playbook.
"That's exactly how it's drawn up," Chesnut said. "Kind of like Tim Tebow. I made a bad pass, but my tight end Will Tomlinson saved me."
The touchdown capped a sharp second-half effort for the Chargers, who trailed 8-0 early and spent much of the opening half fumbling the ball away.
Two Jake Schilling field goals (30, 35 yards) made it 8-6 at the half, and the Chargers surged to the lead when Chesnut sneaked 2 yards with a gritty second-effort rush for a touchdown at 3:52 of the third quarter.
It became 20-8 when Chesnut zinged a 17-yard TD pass to Josh Butts, and holder Jammion Laws ran in a two-point conversion off a bad snap from center.
"Our coach has stressed conditioning to us all summer," Chesnut said. "All that work we did in the summer paid off."
It showed in the running game, which got going in the second half. Tailback Shaquille Traylor ran for 102 yards on 20 carries, most of them after halftime.
Centennial fumbled three times in the first half, losing two. The Panthers went ahead when Zach Shugart passed 18 yards to Josh Eubanks in the first quarter, a touchdown set up by a Traylor fumble.